Good Fish Guide
Bass, seabass (Caught at sea)
Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - All applicable methods
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Bay of Biscay North and Central
Stock detail - VIIIa,b
Fish type - White round fish
The combination of slow growth, late maturity, spawning aggregation, and strong summer site fidelity increase the vulnerability of seabass to over-exploitation and localised depletion. The state of the stock and fishery relative to reference points is unknown and information on abundance and exploitation is unavailable. Stock structure remains poorly known and further studies are needed. However the biomass index shows an increasing trend since the mid-2000s and commercial landings have been relatively stable over the time series.
Bass or seabass belongs to a family of spiny-finned fish called Moronidae, which are closely related to groupers. Bass breed from March to mid-June, mostly in April, in British coastal and offshore waters, from January to March in the Bay of Biscay and from February to May in the English Channel and eastern Celtic Sea. It is a long-lived and slow growing species - up to 30 years of age - and can achieve a length of up to 1m with a weight of 12kg. Male bass mature at 31-35cm (aged 3-6 years) and females mature at 40-45cm (aged 5-8 years). Once mature, bass may migrate within UK coastal waters and occasionally further offshore. Increases in sea water temperature in recent decades has likely led to a more northerly distribution of seabass, as it is now found further north into the North Sea. Climate warming may also have lengthened the time adult seabass spend in the summer feeding areas. After spawning, seabass tend to return to the same coastal sites each year.
Bay of Biscay North and Central
The state of the stock and fishery relative to reference points is unknown and information on abundance and exploitation is unavailable. Stock structure remains poorly known and further studies (including tagging, genetics, or other types of markers) are needed. However the biomass index shows an increasing trend since the mid-2000s and commercial landings have been relatively stable over the time series. ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, commercial catches should be no more than 2634 tonnes in each of the years 2016 and 2017.
There is no management plan for sea bass in this area.
The majority of seabass landings are taken in targeted fisheries with additional landings of seabass taken as a bycatch. Inshore, small day boats operate using a variety of methods (e.g. gillnet, hook and line, trawl and seine) with relatively little activity in late winter/early spring. Offshore, pre-spawning and spawning aggregations of seabass are targeted by large pelagic trawlers, including pair trawlers, in the English Channel and Bay of Biscay during December to April. Recreational catches are thought to be significant but cannot be quantified.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below . Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.
ICES Advice 2015, Book 7 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2015/2015/Bss-8ab.pdf
Sign up to get all the latest marine related news from MCS
The UK charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife.