Minimum conservation reference sizes

Minimum conservation reference sizes (MCRS) are used to promote long-term fisheries sustainability and are based on previous EU Legislation. This means that if a fish species is caught from the list below, it must be returned to the sea immediately if they are less than the relevant MCRS.

For the fish species within the Northumberland IFCA district, the MCRS’s are as follows:

Fish Species MCRS
Bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) 42 cm
Cod (Gadus morhua) 35 cm
Dover sole (Solea solea) 24 cm
Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) 30 cm
Hake (Merluccius merluccius) 27 cm
Herring (Clupea harengus) 20 cm
Horse Mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) 15 cm
Ling (Molva molva) 63 cm
Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) caught within North Sea 30 cm
Plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) 27 cm
Pollack (Pollachius pollachius) 30 cm
Saithe/Coley (Pollachius virens) 35 cm
Sardine  (Sardina pilchardus) 11 cm
Whiting (Merlangius merlangus) 27cm


A full version of the MCRS Byelaw can be found HERE.

The Angling Trust provide their own minimum size guidance with sizes based on the most recent size of sexually maturity studies available. The Angling Trust’s minimum size page can be found here.


From 1st March to 30th November 2021, no more than TWO seabass may be retained PER DAY. This applies if you are fishing from a vessel or from the shore. The minimum size of bass retained shall be 42 cm.  Bass guidance is reviewed annually and determined nationally.

Between the 1st December 2021 – 28th February 2022, seabass is catch-and-release only.



If you are unsure of any recreational sea angling regulations, please get in touch by calling 01670 797676 or email