Accueil BiodiversitéEspèces marines réglementéesRegulation of maritime recreational fishing

Regulation of maritime recreational fishing

Maritime recreational fishing concerns amateur fishers or anglers whose catches are intended for their personal consumption. It is practised on board a boat or by underwater fishing.

Maritime recreational fishing is defined as fishing where the product is destined for the exclusive consumption of the fisher and his/her family, and may not be retailed, presented for sale or sold in any form, or knowingly purchased. It is carried out from boats or craft other than those registered as fishing craft, or by swimming or diving, or shoreline fishing within the public maritime domain, or in the parts of rivers, streams or canals where the water is saline. In order to preserve the resource, minimum sizes for fishing have been fixed for certain species.


Authorized fishing gear :
-  two longlines each equipped with thirty hooks ;
-  two fish pots ;
-  one fishing spear ;
-  one landing net or brailer ;
-  rigged lines on condition that all the lines used for fishing are equipped with a maximum of twelve hooks, a lure being the equivalent of one hook ;
-  In the Mediterranean, one shellfish grappling rod ;
-  in the North Sea, the Channel or the Atlantic, a gillnet or trammel net with a maximum length of 50 metres, a maximum height of 2 metres while fishing, except in the saline part of estuaries and river mouths upstream of a limit fixed by the ministry responsible for maritime fisheries ;
-  in the regions of Brittany, Pays de la Loire and Aquitaine, and under certain conditions, one lift net per boat and three hoop nets per person on board.

It is prohibited to possess or use any fishpot hauler, net hauler, net winch, mechanical crane or electrically or hydraulically assisted mechanism to raise fishing lines or fishing gear on board. However, the possession and use of electrical devices such as electrical line haulers or electrical reels is authorized within the limit of three electrical devices per boat, with a maximum power of 800 watts for each device.

The practice of underwater fishing is prohibited for persons of less than sixteen years of age.

For recreational underwater fishing, the use of breathing apparatus, whether self-contained or not, enabling a person under water to breathe without returning to the surface, is prohibited. Without special authorisation delivered by the local authority (Prefet *), the simultaneous possession on board a boat or other craft of breathing apparatus as defined above and a fishing spear or other device designed for underwater fishing is prohibited.

Underwater fishing gear of which the propulsive force developed derives from energy resulting from a chemical mixture or the release of compressed air, unless the compression is obtained by the action of a mechanism operated by a single user, is prohibited.

It is prohibited for underwater fishers :
-  to practise underwater fishing between sunset and sunrise ;
-  to come within 150 metres of fishing boats or other craft, or of fishing gear clearly indicated by markers ;
-  to take marine animals caught in fishing gear or nets placed by other fishers ;
-  to make use, for the purposes of underwater fishing, of a lighting system ;
-  to use, for the fishing of crustaceans, of a fishing spear or special device for underwater fishing ;
-  to keep loaded out of the water a spear gun for underwater fishing.

Any person practicing underwater fishing should indicate their presence by means of a buoy enabling their position to be determined, the characteristics of which are defined by ministerial directive from the ministry responsible for maritime fisheries.

(*Prefet : Representative of the French state at local or regional level)

With a view to preventing the degradation of fisheries resources when they appear to be endangered, and to guarantee the safety, hygiene, healthy conditions and proper practice of fishing, the competent administrative authorities may, by decree, take the following restrictive measures :

-  abridge the list or the number of items of fishing gear the possession of which is authorized on board the boats or other craft mentioned in Article 1 ;
-  define the list of fishing gear or procedures that may be used for underwater fishing or shoreline fishing ;
-  define the characteristics and conditions for use of the authorized fishing gear ;
-  prohibit permanently or temporarily the practice of fishing in certain areas or during certain periods ;
-  prohibit the fishing of certain species or limit the quantities that may be fished or transported ;
-  establish zones of protection around marine culture facilities, artificial structures or systems for concentrating fishes.

Before practicing maritime recreational fishing, it is necessary to be properly informed of the local legislation by the maritime authority. For example, a decree of the regional maritime authority of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region (Arrêté-DRAM-28-04-2008), specifies the particular conditions for underwater fishing along the mainland coasts of the Mediterranean.

Recreational maritime fishing legislation :
› Decree 90-618 of 11-07-1990
amended by the following decrees :
› Decree n°99-1163 of 21 December1999
› Decree 2009-727 of 11 June 2009

Special legislation for underwater fishing
› Arrêté-DRAM-28-04-2008

The French legislation regarding the minimum size authorized for the capture of marine animals has been substantially altered and amended over the past few years. One of the basic texts is the decree (Arrêté) of 21 December 1999 fixing the minimum weight or size for the capture of species of fish or other marine animals for the practice of maritime recreational fishing in maritime waters that come under French sovereignty or jurisdiction.

At present, these legal minimum sizes are subject to European legislation (European Community law of 2006).

Appendix III of the Council of 21 December 2006 concerning management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources in the Mediterranean.


Red mullet
Mullus spp
Dicentrarchus labrax
Diplodus annularis
Diplodus puntazzo
Diplodus sargus
Diplodus vulgaris
Engraulis encrasicolus
Epiphenelus spp
Lithognathus mormyrus
Merluccius merluccius
Mullus spp
Pagellus acarne
Pagellus bogaraveo
Pagellus erythrinus
Pagrus pagrus
Polyprion americanus
Sardina pilchardus
Scomber spp
Solea vulgaris
Sparus aurata
Trachurus spp
Sea bass
Annular seabream
Sharpsnout seabream
White seabream
Two-banded bream
Striped seabream
Red mullet
Spanish seabream
Red seabream
Common pandora
Common seabream
Atlantic wreckfish
Common sole
Gilthead seabream
Jack mackerel
25 cm
12 cm
18 cm
23 cm
18 cm
9 cm
45 cm
20 cm
20 cm
11 cm
17 cm
33 cm
15 cm
18 cm
45 cm
11 cm
18 cm
20 cm
20 cm
15 cm

Homarus gammarus
Homarus gammarus
Nephrops norvegicus
Parapenaeus longirostris
Norway lobster
Spiny lobster
Deep-water rose shrimp
300 mm (LT) 105 mm (LC)
20 mm (LC) 70 mm (LT)
90 mm (LC)
20 mm (LC)
Bivalve molluscs

Venerupis spp
Pecten jacobeus
Venerupis spp.
Venus spp.
Venus clam
10 mm
25 mm
25 mm
À consulter

- ‘Chasse Sous-marine Passion’ underwater fishing federation :
-  French underwater research and sports federation :
-  Nautical federation for recreational underwater fishing :
-  ‘La passion du bleu’ underwater fishing association :