Most commercial fishing boats that operate off the Sussex Coast are under 10m in length and operate inshore, usually within six nautical miles (nm) of the coast. These boats land their catch daily. Most of the fleet is multi-purpose, operating throughout the year in pursuit of whichever stock (and or quota) is available during the relevant season. For example, sole are fished in the spring and autumn, bass are targeted in the summer and cod in the winter.
These smaller inshore vessels use a variety of static and mobile gears. Gill, trammel and entangling net fishing takes place widely in the region. Other methods include trawling, beam trawling, pair trawling, drift netting, and scallop and oyster dredging. There is also an important potting fishery for whelk, lobster, brown crab and cuttlefish.
An internationally significant beam trawling fleet operates in the region, which mainly targets sole, plaice and other flatfish. In particular, large UK, Belgian and French vessels operate beyond the 6 nm limit to the east of Selsey Bill. Further offshore, in the centre of the English Channel, scallop beds are dredged by large scallop boats from the UK.