Commercial and recreational fishing
The resident commercial fishing boats that are moored on the Hamble predominantly fish outside the River itself, but at certain times of the year occasionally fishes for grey mullet in the River, and during the winter season 3 or 4 of them dredge for oysters in the river mouth.
These are the only commercial fishermen that fish in the Hamble, and to do so they must request a license from the Harbour Office, which has certain conditions attached to protect the navigational safety and mooring structures of the River. This license is in addition to any others the fishermen must gain from other consenting bodies such as the Sea Fisheries Committee.
The European Union ultimately has control over sea fishing, and member states can bring further regulations to their own vessels. Sea Fisheries Committees are responsible for managing fisheries within 6 miles of the coast, and may set additional byelaws. The mouth of the Hamble falls within the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority control within the river itself falls under the Environment Agency which has powers under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 and the Water Resources Act 1991 to make bye-laws regulating fishing for these species. The Environment Agency also enforces water quality standards for shellfish under the Shellfish Waters Directive.
Recreational angling takes place in the river, restricted only by right of access.
Although there is little fishing activity in the river, it is an important nursery ground for a variety of species including bass.
The mouth of the river and Southampton Water are important Oyster bed grounds.
The River Hamble is an important bass nursery area. Below is an extract taken from Inshore rules UK bass legislation explaining the restrictions on bass fishing.
“Any bass landed, stored, sold, displayed or offered for sale, and taken from the waters surrounding the United Kingdom, must be at least 36cm in length as measured from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail fin. Any bass retained on board a vessel or transhipped must also exceed 36cm. These provisions apply to both commercial fishermen and anglers. Any bass below 36cm must be returned immediately to the sea.
Fishing for bass from any vessel, as well as, fishing for any species of sea-fish using sand-eels (ammodytidae) as bait, is prohibited inSouthampton Water (including the Hamble)between 30 April and 1 November. The legislation is Statutory Instrument 1999 No 75 The Bass (Specified Areas) (Prohibition of Fishing) (Variation) Order 1999).
The nursery areas comprise river estuaries, harbours and power station outfalls where juvenile bass usually predominate and are more easily caught, particularly during the summer months. In certain nursery areas, fishing may also be subject to other restrictions implemented by the local sea fisheries committee or the Environment Agency [National Rivers Authority]. Such restrictions may include prohibitions on the setting of fixed nets or restrictions on the use of mobile gear.
The prohibition on bass fishing in nursery areas does not apply to fishing from the shore. However it is expected that shore anglers and their associations will respect the need for this prohibition and return to the sea any bass caught within nursery areas.”
Should you wish to contact the local offices of the Environment Agency or Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, please phone 01962 764812 and 01202 721373 respectively.
Bait Digging is carried out by private and commercial diggers.
There is a bye-law to restrict the digging of bait adjacent to inter-tidal structures, so as to prevent them being undermined.
The Solent European Marine Sites Project has produced The bait Collectors Code, a voluntary code of conduct for responsible and sustainable bait collection.