The most significant change in Sea Angling history – A 3 Bass daily limit – NOW with added MLS!

Sean McSeveny
  · Sean McSeveny  · September 3, 2015

UPDATE

As of the 1st September 2015 the new Minimum Landing Size (MLS) for Bass is 42cm! This coupled with the 3 bag limit is the recreational anglers contribution to help Bass Stocks recover from their current precarious levels. The official method of measuring is from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tailfin as shown below.

File 03-09-2015 09 46 30

UPDATE

 

 

One of the most significant changes to affect recreational sea anglers came into place at midnight last night. The EU, have imposed a 3 fish limit for recreational anglers fishing for Bass in most of the UK, North Western France and the Netherlands. The map below shows in blue, the area that the limit has been implemented.

 

 

Bass areas

One thing’s for certain, it has a lot of Sea Anglers talking about the changes. Some like myself welcome it and others are up in arms about the whole affair. Lets take a look and see what this means for the future of fishing, those who make their living from it, and how the new rulings will be enforced, if that is even possible.

In reality, most shore fishermen would be having a good day if they managed to catch 3 Bass in a day. Having said that I have had sessions where I have had over 20 in a few hours, and even one red letter day, where between myself and a client we managed 30 in just over 2 hours. It may be that when the restrictions start to show their intended benefits, more  anglers will experience such days.

Boat anglers often catch more than 3 Bass in a day, especially when they are targeting them. How many are going to want to continue spending thousands a year to run a boat, when they are limited to a 3 Bass. The knock on affect to the Charter Fleet could have widespread implications. Many charter boats rely on Bass trips to make up a considerable percentage of their bookings. I asked Mick Mahoney from the Charter boat Spirit of Arun how this would affect their future, she responded with this statement:

The boat is booked throughout the year by groups who specifically want to go Bass fishing, these include the lure angling society, various organisations and clubs who wish to target them with lures only. In addition we are often booked and supplied with sandeels for live baiting.
The problem occurs when we locate a feeding shoal which is generally holding up in a small area such as a bank or a holding rock. In order for us to continue fishing throughout it is important that we do not spook the shoal which results in us travelling a considerable distance down tide in order to release fish away the shoal area. With the methods I have described above we average approx. 3,000 bass per annum. Whilst this figure may seem a considerable quantity for recreational angling it pales into insignificance compared to the numbers landed by drift netters which can be better measured in tonnes. It is a little early for us to determine whether bookings will indeed be affected by the new limit, but from talking to some of our customers most seem happy to accept that a three fish limit is acceptable. For example Spirit of Arun is licenced for 8 so 24 fish in a day would be considered fine. No one is saying after all that we cannot continue to fish for them after the boat limit has been reached providing of course we can keep the fish feeding when we return fish which are caught after the limit is reached. For us of course, it doesn’t stop there. As we are based in Littlehampton we are also having to contend with possible restrictions on our Bream fishing within the new designated MCZ at Kingmere. Whilst no final decision has been made, we are advised that there is potential for catch limits on Bream, a no anchoring provision or in the worst case scenario a total exclusion of the site which would include a high percentage of our Bass fishing marks. We have already had customers booking less trip for 2016 based on the fact that they will be able to catch as many Bream as they want in other ports such as Poole where they will not be any restrictions with regards to a bag limit.
Bass Mick
 I also asked Paul Whittall, owner of Offshore Rebel the same question. Paul, like myself finds it hard to believe that recreational anglers are responsible for  catching 25% of reported landings. Others believe that an increase in the minimum landing size to 42cm, would have a more significant affect on the stocks than imposing a limit of recreational anglers. I personally believe that the new measures are not enough, and more needs to be done with regard to targeting Bass during their spawning period. I would like to see a blanket ban on all landings of Bass between January and April.
So how is this bag limit going to be policed? It is hard enough trying to stop poachers on fresh water venue’s, how on earth can any agency expect to cover hundreds of miles of coast line?
They seem to have succeeded on doing it in Souther Ireland. Yes you will always have people that will break the law, but over all the 2 fish limit is well maintained there. Which ever agency was responsible for enforcing it would have to  impose severe fines to deter those happy to break that rules. It would need to initiate a campaign of education, not just on bag limits, but on minimum landing sizes.
Lets not kid ourselves, this is not a quick fix solution. As the Bass as so slow growing we probably wont see any significant improvement in numbers for at least a couple of years. But it may be that when these and other measures take effect, we will see more Bass like this pictured below.
Bass spirit of Arun
Fishing Tails > All Articles > Reports > Chesil Beach > The most significant change in Sea Angling history – A 3 Bass daily limit – NOW with added MLS!

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52 Responses to "The most significant change in Sea Angling history – A 3 Bass daily limit – NOW with added MLS!"
  1. Ken Pearce says:

    I have absolutely no problem with a 3 fish limit as I believe will be the opinion of the vast majority of recreational anglers. Who by the way already in many cases practice catch and release. But to say that we are responsible for 25% of all bass landed in European/U.K. waters is utter B.S. Also what we return will still be there for the commercial boys to grab. As usual the softest target takes the biggest hit from the politicians!

    • D Benson says:

      Unfortunately i only manage to fish maybe once or twice a year as I live in London. In the unlikely event of me catching 5 or 6 bass in a day my impact would be much less than someone taking 2 or 3 bass every week. Is this fair? a yearly limit would be fairer but unpoliceable.

      • I too live in London so I feel your pain, however I fish and catch nearly every week inside the M25 for free, there are lots of venues to explore for the bait and lure fisherman alike, sure it’s not as grand as the Dorset Coastline but it can be just as exciting I had a 10lb pike off the top this week in the dark on a canal the take was close in and extreme!

  2. its a good start, but your point on the enforcement of the legislation is the core issue, I have never heard of any conviction of an angler having more than 2 bass over here, I also have never been approached by any fishery protection officers in my many hundreds of hrs spent bass fishing each season, nor have any of my angling colleagues, remember that commercial fishing for bass is also prohibited in Ireland, yet I see many boats fishing for mullet who obviously take bass, Lots of restaurants and fishmongers have bass for sale which are apparantly “farmed in Greece”, ..yet these fish are reasonably priced for an imported product, and if it can be imported at a low cost then who are the mullet men selling their “by catch” bass to?…anyway, the point still remains, policing of the new laws is paramount and the powers that be should ensure financial aid is given to ensure they are properly enforced, if not then it is just an empty gesture

  3. I think for the majority of anglers this really should not be an issue, many practice catch and release and for the rest well catching 3 fish on any one day is a rare occasion and how many do you really need to take for the table?

  4. Sean Heath says:

    the only restriction needed for bass Is to have is no take when they are spawning ,,, but the most sustainable fishing,,ie rod and line got hit the hardest

  5. mick says:

    I have no problem with a 3 bag limit as I have never caught that many yet, I do however have a problem with no increase in MLS and no restrictions on commercials. also who came up with 25% and where did they get their info from.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      I believe that we will see an increase in the MLS in the near future. I beleive we have B.A.S.S to thank for coming up with the figure of 25%. How they came up with that figure I have no idea.

      • robert gallacher says:

        i believe the mls will be increased to 42 cm in june ?
        Further to the measures applied so far in 2015 – and following the latest discussions at EU level – the European Commission will propose monthly vessel catch limits for bass, seasonal closures on targeting activity for the commercial sector and an increase in the minimum conservation reference size (MCRS) for bass to 42cm for both recreational and commercial sectors.
        http://nffo.org.uk/news/bass-measures.html

      • Dave says:

        I’m not sure this is true Sean. I will stand corrected but I believe 25% was an average of the highest and lowest figures for recreational mortality in thew 2012 report. It was based on responses given by anglers who were interviewed. I’m not sure BASS had anything to do with it.

  6. Mike Heylin says:

    I think UK anglers find it hard to understand the 25% said to be taken by recreational fishers but they are not all anglers. In France many boaters, and there are hundreds of thousands of them with representation within the French recreational fisheries sector, drag a line behind their sail boat as they navigate and I doubt not too many of the fish taken by that method get put back. In warmer inshore waters shore anglers can certainly take a lot of bass in a session, and do. The Recreational Fisheries sector there has been pushing for more enforcement to limit the take but the government has not wanted to annoy any sector which may be making a living from bass, even if they are illegal.

    As to farmed bass, you can check current and historic prices for farmed fish easily using Google. Biggest sources are Greece and Turkey. The 25% figure was developed from European statistics by CITES, not BASS.

    Commission is now speaking about further measures which they will introduce even without Member State agreement, including landing limits by metier, further restrictions on net meshes etc. So we do have to sit and wait to some extent to see what is finally proposed but I get the sense that the Commission is really serious about doing something to protect bass from commercial depredations.

  7. Paullofthewest says:

    Whilst agreeing in principle and applauding the conservation aspects of this new law, I am concerned that this, along with the MCZs are the thin end of a large wedge. I note this is a European ruling, I wonder how many of our continental cousins will be abiding by this 3 fish limit? Along with how it will be enforced in this country I find it very perplexing.
    Sadly we as anglers only have ourselves to blame. I am no fan of any political party regardless of colour, I understand UKIIPS Farage has occasionally wetted a line, but the antis are out there and gathering in strength and number, the upcoming general election will see a surge in support for the green party whom are against any forms of animal exploration or perceived cruelty, furthermore we only need look to the last labour government to see the impact upon field sports. Every piece of litter left on the beach or dodgy picture of dead dogfish on social media is another nail in the coffin. How long before a 10 mackerel limit? Finally ref the 25% figure, In 30 years of shore angling I have never landed 3 bass in one sitting, two in 2 cast the most memorable on a cold wet November evening at abbotsbury in 1992 springs to mind!

  8. Dave says:

    It’s a good idea, you don’t need to take more than 3 fish, size limit increase is needed, let a fish breed a couple of times. Perhaps we need a sea fishing rod licence, a body with financial clout gets listened to! Imagine if sea anglers by paying a licence fee help maintain piers etc, it would stop the loss of these places to fish.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      I for one will fight tooth and nail against a Sea FIshing licence. I am fully for bag limits and increased MLS, but I will never give up one of the very few hunter gather rights that we have left for free.

      • But if it’s going to be effective I see no other way of raising the cash needed to enforce this directive!

      • Dave says:

        I don’t like the licence idea. I see no other way, my family originate from Scotland they have no licence and not much say, I live in the Midlands and have seen benefits of the licence restocking, pollution clearance, it gives us a say when so many want to ban what my family have done for generations. P S great website.

  9. Leo toms says:

    This is a good step in the right direction for the bass. However I feel it will be impossible to impose or police! When I see fishing around poole in the summer both by tourists and locals alike. Who will be patrolling up and down the quayside dishing out fines to families with kids ignorant of the fact they have exceeded their 3 fish quota.
    Who is going to follow me at 3am in the morning scaling down some vertical purbeck rock mark to check my bag limit!
    Unfortunately this will impact hard for the likes of charter boats and skippers who will be the first to be held to ransom for their catches as they are the only ones that can be policed properly. I can’t see a fisheries vessel at the mouth of every port checking every vessel that comes in from a fishing trip checking on their quotas. The manpower required would be immense.
    This is a great idea from the EU, but ultimately it will rely heavily on personal honesty and much much more on education on the bass fishery to your average joe!

  10. Dave McCune says:

    As far as I am aware EU Legislation does not affect the right of the UK Recreational Angler, the only laws affecting the UK Recreation Angler are those introduced through UK Legislation (such as the Tope (Prohibition of Fishing) 2008, and protected species such as Twaite/Allis Shad).

    To date (30 March 2015) there has been no UK Legislation enforcing the limit of Bass that may be retained by the Recreational Angler – not to say it might happen in the near future.

  11. Mike guyll says:

    Hi Sean, again I hear you dismissing the idea of a fishing license. Well as regards to your hunter gatherer point those days are over and it’s partly that mentality that is responsible for anglers killing undersized fish. The french in particular have that mentality and I have nearly come to blows with unscrupulous fishermen and that hunter gatherer mentality.
    For years now people have raped the seas without ever thinking of giving anything back. Let’s face it the seas are now truly raped and without decent measures put in place to bring it under control there will be no fish left for us to fish for with or without a license. If in any small way the introduction of a license can keep our stocks for future generations then I am all for it.
    You don’t hear the freshwater guys complaining about their licenses and rightly so. Masses of conservation work has been done in the fresh water scene and mostly funded by that license.
    Nothing in life is free, if I wanted to play golf then I would fully expect to pay through my nose for it! The introduction of a license for saltwater anglers with defined legal landing sizes printed on the back whereby the funds were not misappropriated into other areas of the economy would only be a good thing in my opinion.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      Mike, I respect but don’t necessarily agree with your comment. I don’t want to get into a discussion on the topic of Sea Fishing licences on this post, as I don’t want to detract from the main topic. However I do invite you to have a written debate with me on the subject of licenses, which I will publish next week. If you would like to send me your arguments for, via email, I will compile it along with my argument against. We will then open it to other readers to comment.

  12. Mike Bradshaw says:

    Lets learn from NZ about how to conserve fish stocks.

  13. Clive says:

    Mike Guyll said, “You don’t hear the freshwater guys complaining about their licenses and rightly so”

    I’m sorry Mike but freshwater anglers are constantly complaining about how little they get from the EA via the rod licence fee, the cut backs to the EA have been savage and they are yet again going to be cut back further, by far the majority of coarse anglers are very unhappy with the service that is provided and they are paying for, we can go for examples of poaching on lakes and rivers during the closed season and during the season by non- licence holders, predation by Cormorants and Otters countrywide and that is a situation that is going to get much worse, I was a head bailiff on a nationaly known Carp water for 14 years, the service we had when we requested it from the EA was nothing short of woefull, it was often a case of just get on with whatever project as requests for an EA officer to attend for project discussions fell on deaf ears, the only time the EA turned up in numbers was when 17 Otters were released in one day at the back of the lake and neighbouring Trout farm, this is the reality of paying for a EA rod licence and so it goes on.
    A rod licence for sea anglers would be nothing short of a complete waste of money for you, me and the Bass, it would never be enforcable, in fact any attempt would more than likely cost a great deal more to put in place than revenue it would raise.
    The EA can barely enforce the freshwater licence anymore, there’s not a hope in hell they could enforce a sea licence.
    As a lifelong angler I would never support a sea fishing rod licence, I’ve seen the waste from the freshwater licence.

    • Paulofthewest says:

      Clive, 100% spot on.
      The EA are in my opinion unfit for purpose, I reported a incident of catch and take poaching last autumn, all they were interested in was a reference number. Otters should be removed from the protected list, as they are now endemic in parts of Somerset, to the point of smaller river fish populations collapsing, combine this with the cormorant debacle and the Eastern Europeans who are partial to a boiled carp or chub, you can see the writing on the wall. A sea licence is completely unmanageable and how would it ever be enforced furthermore to what benefit? Gaurantee of catching, come on… Finally over the years on Chesil beach I’ve witnessed many so called ‘anglers ‘filling bin bags full of mackeral to slowly cook in the summer sun on the beach, they then swig their beers light the bar b qs and leave rubbish behind all in the name of a good laugh- these individuals don’t give a toss about the environment or what they are doing and they certainly won’t be purchasing licences. Once again it wil be decent law abiding angler who pays the price.

  14. Gerry Anderson says:

    Surely it would of made more sense to return all Bass in double figures instead. Going back to the almost collapse of North Sea Cod some years ago, wasn’t it established that it’s the large mature fish that produce most of the eggs

  15. Gerry Anderson says:

    Quite right Sean along with a total ban during breeding season

  16. Robert Jones says:

    There is a proposal for Power Generating Lagoons to be Constructed along the Welsh coast. These are basically to generat power from tidal flow in and out thro Turbines. However if areas withing the lagoons were fenced off these could be used to Raise imature bass which eventually a high percentage could be released into the wild. To make this cost effective some would need to be grown on and initially be used as breeding stock but they could then go into the food chain like the salmon in Scotland.This would not only help the wild stock but could take pressure of them as many could be produced for the table. It would also provide jobs & revenue. From an empty huge tank of sea water.

  17. Stuart Reynolds says:

    Just picking up on the comment by Dave McCune – my understanding is that the regulations ARE legally enforceable. The regulations are in full here http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=OJ:JOL_2015_084_R_0001&from=EN and specifically say that they “shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States”. Section 2 (1) of the European Communities Act 1972 provides that directly applicable EU rules “are without further enactment to be given legal effect or used in the United Kingdom shall be recognised and available in law, and be enforced, allowed and followed accordingly”. Section 30 of the Fisheries Act 1981 provides that breaches of “enforceable Community restrictions relating to sea fishing” are treated as offences under Section 5 (1) of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967. Section 11 of the 1967 Act says that “Any person guilty of an offence under this Act shall be liable—
    (a ) in the case of an offence under section … 5(1) …., on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £50,000 or on conviction on indictment to a fine;” In other words the penalties for breach of the 3 fish limit are a fine up to £50k in the Magistrates Court and unlimited fines at Crown Court. In practice, you would be likely to receive an administrative penalty starting at £250. Your fish, fishing tackle and boat can also be confiscated. Apologies for the legalese but I do think that, unless I have missed something, this provision has some significant penalties and I’d hope every angler will obey them.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      Thanks for clearing that up Stuart.

      • Fraser says:

        Extract from the Fisheries Act 1981

        http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/29/section/22

        Power to restrict sea fishing.

        (1)For subsections (1) to (4) of the M1Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 (power to restrict fishing for sea fish) there shall be substituted—

        “(1)Subject to the provisions of this section, the Ministers may by order prohibit in any area specified in the order and either for a period so specified or without limitation of time—

        (a)all fishing for sea fish; or

        (b)fishing for any description of sea fish specified in the order; or

        (c)fishing for sea fish, or for any description of sea fish specified in the order, by any method so specified,

        by any fishing boat to which the prohibition applies; and where any fishing boat is used in contravention of any prohibition imposed by an order under this section, the master, the owner and the charterer (if any) shall each be guilty of an offence under this subsection.

        Note the use of the term by any fishing boat

      • Dave McCune says:

        IFCA (Southern Sea Fisheries) have now given further guidance, quoting Section 30 of the 1981 Fisheries Act as the legally binding law with regards to restricting anglers to keeping within a bag limit for Bass (as pointed out by Stuart above).

  18. Jonny b says:

    Who and how is this going to be enforced?Should really be targeting the groups of people on piers etc who take buckets full of undersized bass.

  19. andrew says:

    i see that quite a few responses say that they never caught 3 bass in a day so how is this law going to protect bass numbers,it’s not going to make a difference!

  20. Mick price says:

    I am not against landing size increase it makes sense . My problem is to go fishing for me personally the cost is .£30 car to coast ,£100 fuel for boat ,£20 bait , plus marina ,insurance, servicing .
    And I may catch no fish one day ‘or five another and have to put two back ,the only people this law helps if the commercial fishermenwith the gill nets and long lines .
    I have never put my opinion faward like this before but having read some of the comments from people who probably never fish I feel compelled .

  21. Paulo Quaresma says:

    Hi all, i have recently come from Portugal where there is lot Bass, over there we do have license and that doesn’t help at all the bass resources, the license money will never be to protect the species, from my point of view this is all BS, if you think the amount of fish that a boat can get in one day can be 10 times more then all the anglers can get with a fishing rod (and they do).
    I have seen bots loaded with tons of sea bass and they cant sell them all leaving them to be sold for fish flower to feed another species breed in closed Environments.
    The professional fishing should have more tight rules, as for the anglers get down to reality they have no impact on the fish supply chain.
    I really think that 3 bass limits is ridiculous and unfair, fish don’t always show for an angler, an angler can go fishing all year and catch just a few bass, but in the day they are there the angler cant take more then 3 bass. What about the other 200 times that he didn’t catch any?
    I would be more concern about Anglers that don’t respect the the fishing spot where they are, and have destroyer behavior and leave all their trash behind then worry about the amount fish an angler can get!

    Enjoy Fishing!

  22. sid griffiths says:

    iam a commercial bass fisherman for over 35 yrs ,and in that time i have seen so many small boats loaded to the gunnal with men and bass leaving after work to go make another wage in the evening, i to fish with rod/line and take 1 box a day which is a good days work , bass demand respect not to be heaved up like a load of dog fish, everybody is intitled to fish but most take the piss 1st day filling the fidge 2nd day fill the frezer 3rd day your selling it.we need a sustainable fisherie where the playing field is equal, size limit increase , closed fisherie when spawning, abag limit on those who flout the rules, and lastly the god given right to fish, lets not lose this king of fish.

  23. johnny fish says:

    size limit should be increased to 45cm . atrue breeding size. Clubs could impose this and inshore commercial boys. What is the restriction on inshore commercial fishing wasn’t a weight limit to be imposed ?.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      Why should inshore commercials be hit when they make far less of dent in the fish stocks than large trawlers, that can target other species? There is a proposed limit of 1 tonne a month, but I would rather that be increased to 3 tonnes so that they can make a living, and the fishing remains sustainable to rod and line commercial fishermen. I also believe that increasing the MLS to 45cm is unrealistic. The amount of by catch that would be discarded on such a size limit would be ridiculous.

  24. johnny fish says:

    Come on.What bycatch .Rod and line commercial boysalready put back under sized Bass an increase in size limit does not affect this .They should all be returned alive so no waste .Unless you do differently .

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      I don’t care for your insinuation Johnny. You are typical of someone that grabs an element of information and spouts off without thinking about the bigger picture. How big a mesh size would a trawler need to have to allow the pass through of a 45cm Bass? That is what I am talking about when I talk about by catch.
      Commercial fishermen, whether you like it or not are entitled to make a living just as you and I do.

  25. johnny fish says:

    That’s alright then Sean .Let trawlers catch as much as they want .Have your own way !!!!

  26. Garry Kimber says:

    Like a lot of Anglers, I fish by the Law, leave no litter, and enjoy my sport. I am fully conversant with the pro’s and con’s of different legislation. Its good that this site welcomes debate. But, in all my years that I have been buying a Coarse Fishing License I have never been asked to show it. They sat its compulsory to have, sounds like its voluntary, if its never enforced. What chance is there in enforcing any Sea Fishing Legislation, as we know, there’s not. There’s people who care and those, that just don’t give a f#@k.

  27. David Storton says:

    The most I’ve ever caught is six and I still only took one of them

  28. pete says:

    On another forum we are always up in arms about lack of enforcement at relatively easy to reach venues where you can see certain minorities taking loads of immature bass, we know where, we know when but none of us have ever see any enforcement. Anglers are very good at returning fish and the three fish rule is one I think will be adopted without fuss but unless we get proper enforcement and a few well publicised prosecutions with some tasty fines the shore anglers who already break the rules will just carry on.

  29. Jaypee says:

    I took my lad fishing off the pier in Weymouth and was discusted to see a man an d his son killing ( or just leaving in flapping about in a pile) every fish he caught. It’s attitudes like this that will only be changed by education and I think that education will only be put across through licencing. The majority of recreational anglers will not even hear about these regulations.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      If you think licensing will change the attitudes of idiots, then you are dreaming. Be careful what you wish for, it might come true. I will never be in favour of a licence.
      Do they have a freshwater licence in Scotland? No they don’t and they have no more or less problems that the there are on England’s waterways.

  30. Mr Leslie Kownacki says:

    I am a novice at sea fishing, tried it once 10 years ago, did not do very well so placed sea fishing on the back burner. Now I am interested again, taking two or three fish for my table would be my aim, but after reviewing the constraints regarding sizes and species restrictions, it all seem’s a legal mine field awaiting the unwary and inexperienced angler to trip up on thereby ending with a criminal record. I had been planning a trip to the south coast for my first sea fishing foray in 10 years, but now I am having serious doubts, thank fully I have not expended too much on lures and weights and the like.
    I am a responsible adult and would not ever entertain landing and keeping a smaller/younger fish, sustainability is the key but sadly I now have serious doubts about fishing at all, since the EU law says to land an under size fish is agains’t the law! so how do you know the size of the fish on the end of your line till you land it. This is catch 22 and technically every angler who has ever caught and released an under size fish, has committed an offence liable to prosecution, this is disturbing since if there is no extra provisions under existing laws sea fishing at best can be ended technically, clarity would help.

    • Sean McSeveny Sean McSeveny says:

      Hi Leslie.

      In the case of this law, the definition of “to land”, means to kill the fish and take it from the sea. You can catch and release any fish without worrying about becoming a criminal.As you say, you have no idea what you will catch and the size, this to me is the great appeal of sea fishing.

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