2023 fishing opportunities - Seabass: small win but European anglers will have to do without a fair bag limit - again

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23 Mar

The European sea bass is one of the most emblematic species in recreational fishing. Anglers travel long distances for a chance to catch them and the economic benefits are significant for coastal communities. EAA welcomes the alignment of the closing period between recreational and commercial fishing, but regrets the bag limit remains untouched.

After seven years of conservation measures put in place by the Commission , the seabass stock is slowly recovering. This has  led the EU to adopt a significant increase of the fishing opportunities in 2021, further confirmed in 2022, to the sole benefit of commercial fisheries. Meanwhile, fishing opportunities for the recreational sector have remained largely untouched with a bag limit of two fish per day per angler.

On 12 December 2022, the EU and the UK reached an agreement for the 2023 fishing opportunities for more than 100 shared stocks including seabass. This year again, there is an overall roll-over of the previous year’s arrangements but with additional flexibilities for commercial trawl/seine and limits increases for commercial hooks and lines and commercial fixed gillnet limits. The recreational sector will be limited to:  

  • daily bag limit of two fish per angler in the South (Southern Atlantic waters - ICES divisions 8a and 8b),
  • In the North (Northern Atlantic waters - ICES divisions 4b, 4c, 6a and 7a to 7k), only catch-and-release allowed in February and March. From March until November, a bag limit of two fish per day and per angler will apply while the minimum size remains at 42 cm.


EAA and EFTTA regret that once again the EU and the UK have failed to acknowledge the economic importance of the recreational fisheries sector in this fishery and the need for a fair, non-discriminatory allocation of fishing opportunities. EAA and EFTTA argued for:

·       A 3 bass daily bag limit from March to December with harmonised closing and minimum reference size (42 cm) in the North and South;

·        A lower level of catches overall, to accelerate the recovery of the stock, which, with the current policies would take 15 years to grow back to safe levels;

·        Adequate protection of juveniles from bycatch and discarding.


EAA and EFTTA welcome the ambition of a joint EU-UK multi-year strategy for bass management which should help towards a better management of the stock and fisheries. Both organisations also welcome the decision to set up a closed season that is equal for recreational and commercial fisheries.

EAA and EFTTA however regret that once again the EU and the UK have failed to acknowledge the economic importance of the recreational fisheries sector in this fishery and the need for a fair, non-discriminatory allocation of fishing opportunities.

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