Species


Bass - Dicentrarchus labrax

European Bass have two dorsal fins which are of similar size, the first being spiny-rayed the second being soft-rayed. The scales are a large thick ctenoid scale which means they have a toothed margin which reduces hydrodynamic drag during swimming. Their jaws are structured such that they can protrude/extend their mouth to create a large funnel-like cavity which facilitates in hunting. In addition, they are thick bodied and streamlined, silvery in colour being slightly darker on their back and lighter on their belly and they have a dark patch on their gill covers. Juveniles (up to 10 cm) often have many darker spots on their sides and back. Bass are a species commonly targeted for both commercial and recreational purposes. Bass are mostly caught by commercial trawlers, although some may also be caught using rod-and-line methods. Recreationally bass are targeted by angling, and many charter vessels will take anglers to localities where bass are known to be present.

Black seabream- Spondyliosoma cantharus

Black seabream have an elliptical, compressed body shape with a single dorsal fin which is spiny-rayed at the front, a tail fin which is forked and a small mouth which does not extend back to the level of the eye. The adult colouration is silver, tinged with blue and may have broken golden longitudinal lines (although this is more common in juveniles). Note, the seabreams are not related to freshwater breams. Fishing for black bream within the Sussex IFCA district occurs on a commercial and recreational basis. Most black bream are caught commercially by trawlers, static nets and rod and line methods. Recreationally, black bream is targeted by angling, whereby many charter vessels will take anglers to localities where bream are known to be present. A common and valuable bycatch when targeting black bream is bass.

Brill - Scophthalmus rhombus

Brill are flatfish with an oval body outline and eyes on the ‘left’ side of the head. The dorsal and anal fins run the length of the body but do not join the tail fin. In addition the finrays at the front of the dorsal fin are branched, giving a ‘frilly’ appearance. Unlike turbot, brill have scales and no ‘tubercles’ (bony bumps) but similarly they do have a lateral line which is strongly arched above the pectoral fin. Their colouration and markings are variable depending on the colour of the seabed but they are commonly greyish brown with an abundance of dark and light speckles on top and white underneath. Brill are present throughout the Sussex district and are exploited by a joint targeted fishery which uses large mesh static nets. However, most of this activity occurs outside of the Sussex IFCA district in deeper waters. This fishery will generally occur during the late Spring and Summer months, although brill is present within Sussex on a year-round basis.

Brown/edible crab - Cancer pagurus

Cancer pagurus is known locally in Sussex as the brown crab, it has an oval shaped body with a distinctive ‘piecrust' edge. It is reddish-brown in colour with black tipped pincers. The brown crab is solely caught commercially within the Sussex district and is often intertwined with the lobster fishery. Brown crabs are traditionally caught with the use of inkwell pots, although parlour pots may also be used. The main fisheries for brown crabs are based within Shoreham and Eastbourne and operate all year round.

Cod - Gadus morha

Cod are a typical fish shape with an elongated body however, quite uniquely they have; three dorsal fins, two anal fins, the upper jaw overhangs the lower jaw and the lower jaw possess a barbel. The lateral line is prominently curved and whitish in colour, above this is mottled brown in colour and below is paler, almost white. Cod often form large schools during the day. The main methods in which cod caught commercially is through trawling, static netting, and angling. Cod is also a target of recreational fisheries through fixed netting and angling.

Common cuttlefish - Sepia officinalis

The common cuttlefish is a highly evolved mollusc with large eyes, tough jaws, 8 arms, 2 retractable tentacles and an internal cuttlebone. The body is flattened and oval in shape, with lateral fins running the entire length of the body. The cuttlebone is made of calcium carbonate and is used to control the animals’ buoyancy. The cuttlefish is capable of changing colour and texture very rapidly, this may be used in sexual or competitive behaviour or to camouflage. Throughout Sussex, the common cuttlefish is completely commercial. Cuttlefish within Sussex are predominantly caught with cuttle pots, although static nets and otter trawls are also used. Generally, the cuttlefish fishery operates between May and August within the Sussex IFCA district, when individuals come inshore to breed. These inshore areas typically lie between Fairlight to Beachy Head and from Brighton to the Solent (including the region of Chichester harbour).

Common whelk – Buccinum undatum

The common whelk Buccinum undatum is a relatively large gastropod mollusc with a tall spired shell. The body of the animal is yellowish white, flecked with black and it is a popular sea food in countries around the Southern North Sea. It is common on all British coasts. Fishing for whelks within the Sussex IFCA district only occurs at a commercial level. Whelks are generally caught with the use of whelk pots, although a very small portion may also be caught as bycatch with other types of static and fixed gear. Whelk are fished on a year-round basis with the highest catch rates occurring between January and April. This coincides with then whelks are most commonly feeding.

Dover sole - Solea solea

The Dover sole is a large elliptical shaped flatfish with eyes on the right side of the body, a rounded snout and a curved mouth. The dorsal and anal fin are united thus the fin runs from the eye down the whole length of the body. Generally, Dover sole are greyish brown in colour with some darker blotches on the upper side and white on the underside, but colour may vary depending on the substrate colour. The dover sole is predominantly fished on a commercial level with the use of fixed nets and trawls. Dover sole may also be caught in smaller quantities recreationally with the use of fixed gear or rod and line methods.

European lobster- Homarus Gammarus

The European lobster is dark blue in colour with off-white markings and bright red antennae. It has two front claws that are different in shape, the right-hand claw being larger with blunt serrations used for crushing, the left-hand claw being more slender with sharper serrations used for cutting. It is a solitary animal and can be quite aggressive. Throughout the IFCA district, lobsters are caught on a commercial and recreational basis, predominantly with parlour pots which are specifically designed to retain lobsters. Lobsters may also be caught in static nets and trawls as a form of bycatch.

Great scallop - Pecten maximus

The great scallop, Pecten maximus is a bivalve mollusc (it has a shell consisting of two valves). The lower right valve is convex and off-white in colour whilst the upper left valve is flat and reddish-brown. It has many common names including the great scallop, the king scallop, the giant scallop, escallop and Coquille St. Jacques. Great scallops are solely caught commercially within the Sussex District and can only be caught with a specific type of dredge (spring-loaded Newhaven dredge). Because of the Sussex IFCA Fishing Instruments Byelaw, scallop dredging can only occur in the part of the district that lies between the 3 nautical miles and 6 nautical mile section of the district. The Scallop Closed Season Byelaw also prevents fishing for scallops between the 1st of June and the 31st of October throughout the entirety of the Sussex district.

Herring - Clupea harengus

The herring has the basic ‘fish’ form; one short dorsal fin, a deeply forked tail, no lateral line and a body covered in large round scales. Herring are silver below and dark blue above and have a rounded belly unlike the sprats and shads which have a keel-like edge to their stomach. They are a pelagic, shoal forming, open-water species that perform extensive migrations and can be found all around the coast of the Britain. Herring is an oily fish and young herring are sold in restaurants and as whitebait. Throughout the Sussex district, herring occurs exclusively on a commercial level between the months of October to December.

Mackerel - Scomber scombrus

Mackerel have a long streamlined body which is rounded in section, with a row of characteristic bony scales along the lateral line. There are two well separated dorsal fins and a single anal fin, small finlets extend from the second dorsal fin and anal fin to the tail, the tail is deeply forked. Mackerel are iridescent blue-green on top crossed by narrow black curving bands, silvery on the flanks and white below. Mackerel are most frequently caught through angling within the Sussex district both commercially and recreationally. Mackerel drift netting also occurs throughout the district at low levels.

Native oyster - Ostrea edulis

The native oyster has an oval or pear-shaped shell with a rough, scaly surface which is off-white in colour. The lower left valve is concave and fixed to the substratum, the right valve is flat and sits inside the left. The only commercial fishery for the native oyster in the Sussex IFCA district is in Chichester Harbour. It is likely that the individuals found here are part of the larger Solent population which exists in our neighbouring Southern IFCA district. The oyster fishery in the Sussex IFCA district is solely commercial using specially designed dredges. However, in recent years, the oyster fishery within Chichester Harbour has been closed due to a decline in native oyster populations.

Plaice - Pleuronectes platessa

Plaice is a flatfish with eyes on the right side of the body and a pointed snout/mouth. The head is less than 25% of the total fish length and has line of 4 to 7 bony warts between the eyes extending to the lateral line. The upper side is dark brown with distinct orange blotches and the underside is pearly white. To some degree plaice can adapt their colour to match their substrate, thus increasing camouflage. Fishing for plaice typically occurs at a commercial level throughout the Sussex district, with the most common practices being fixed gear and trawling. Smaller quantities may also be caught with the use of rod and line.

Red mullet - Mullus surmuletus

Red mullet belong to the Mullidae family which are commonly known as the ‘goat fish’ and are generally associated with the tropics (despite the name they are not closely related to the grey mullet which is also found in UK waters). They have a moderately elongated body, with a steep snout and are easily recognized by their two long chemosensory barbels that protrude from the chin. They have two dorsal fins which are spaced well apart and large fragile scales. Their colouration varies with depth, emotion and time of day but generally they are reddish to pink with three yellow strips along their sides. Red mullet is caught on a commercial basis only, and are generally caught only as bycatch within the Sussex District. Outside of the district in the deeper water they are part of a ‘joint targeted’ fishery that uses otter trawls to catch the small demersal deeper water species such as red mullet.

Turbot - Psetta maxima

Turbots are flatfish with a circular body outline and eyes on the ‘left’ side of the head. The dorsal and anal fins run the length of the body but do not join the tail fin. Turbot have no scales but they do have prominent ‘tubercles’, bony bumps that are scattered irregularly on their upper side. Their lateral line is strongly arched above the pectoral fin and their colouration and markings are variable depending on the colour of the seabed; commonly they are greyish brown with an abundance of dark and light speckles on top and white underneath. The turbot fishery within the Sussex district is part of a commercial ‘joint targeted’ fishery for large flat bottom dwelling species. This fishery uses a specific type of fixed net (referred to as either a ‘turbot-ray net’ or a ‘skate net’) and is more commonly found outside the 6 nautical mile boundary and operates between the late Spring until the end of Summer.

Our Address

Sussex IFCA
12A Riverside Business Centre
Brighton Rd
Shoreham-by-Sea
West Sussex
BN43 6RE

Footer Sussex IFCA Logo

Social Media

Contact Us

Telephone: 01273 454407
Fax: 01273 464668
Email: admin@sussex-ifca.gov.uk
Shellfish Permit Enquiries: database@sussex-ifca.gov.uk

© Copyright 2022 Sussex IFCAWeb Design By Toolkit Websites