SUMMARY

SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Dicentrarchus labrax

SPECIES NAME(s)

European seabass

In 2012, European seabass populations from the North, Irish and Celtic seas, and English and Bristol Channels have been grouped in a single assessment. However, there is evidence that some exchange with populations from southern Ireland and Bay of Biscay may exist. As seabass stock structure remains uncertain (ICES, 2014a,b), research programs on seabass stock identity are being carried out by France and UK, involvingelectronicandconventionaltagging,and modelling of larval drift patterns, to try and improve knowledge of spatial dynamics (ICES, 2014a).


ANALYSIS

Strengths
  • Despite the scarcity of management measures adopted at the stock level, some countries such as the UK have already a series of measures to protect the stock. The quality of reported data for commercial fisheries has been improving overall.
  • Improvements to the data and assessment allowed a new benchmark in 2014, and estimates of fishing mortality, biomass, and biological reference points to be presented, for fishing mortality and limit spawning stock biomass.
  • UK and France have embarked on major programs to improve knowledge of spatial dynamics and stock identity.
  • Efforts are continuing in North Sea states with assessing bycatch, developing alternative mitigation methods and developing frameworks for determining safe bycatch limits.
Weaknesses
  • European seabass is a species with high vulnerability to over-exploitation and localized depletion, given its life history characteristics.
  • The combination of declining recruitment since 2008 and increasing fishing effort is causing a rapid decline in biomass.
  • Although this critical situation, no management plan to substantially reduce fishing mortality throughout the range of the stock has been agreed yet.
  • Improvement in monitoring systems in seabird and marine mammal bycatch is needed to accurately quantify impacts on these populations.

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

< 6

Managers Compliance:

< 6 to ≥ 6

Fishers Compliance:

≥ 6

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

≥ 6

Future Health:

0.1


RECOMMENDATIONS

CATCHERS & REGULATORS

1. Start a fishery improvement project to address sustainability issues in this fishery. For advice on starting a FIP, see SFP’s Seafood Industry Guide to FIPs at http://www.sustainablefish.org/publications/2014/04/30/the-seafood-industry-guide-to-fips.
2. Communicate to fishery managers that there are sustainability issues in this fishery that may be affecting the sale of products, and request that they comprehensively evaluate and address such issues.

RETAILERS & SUPPLY CHAIN

1. Encourage your supply chain to start a fishery improvement project. For advice on starting a FIP see SFP’s Seafood Industry Guide to FIPs at http://www.sustainablefish.org/publications/2014/04/30/the-seafood-industry-guide-to-fips.
2. Work with other suppliers and buyers on a pre-competitive basis to start a supplier roundtable to review improvement needs in this and other similar fisheries, catalyze fishery improvement projects, and monitor progress in improvement efforts.


FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

  • Bristol Channel sea bass:

    Withdrawn

  • Dutch rod and line fishery for sea bass:

    Withdrawn

  • North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority sea bass:

    Withdrawn

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

ASSESSMENT UNIT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
North and Celtic Seas and English Channel EU Netherlands Pole-lines hand operated
United Kingdom Gillnets and entangling nets
Longlines
Midwater pair trawls
Midwater trawls
Shore-operated stationary lift nets
Single boat bottom otter trawls

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 17 October 2014

Strengths
  • Despite the scarcity of management measures adopted at the stock level, some countries such as the UK have already a series of measures to protect the stock. The quality of reported data for commercial fisheries has been improving overall.
  • Improvements to the data and assessment allowed a new benchmark in 2014, and estimates of fishing mortality, biomass, and biological reference points to be presented, for fishing mortality and limit spawning stock biomass.
  • UK and France have embarked on major programs to improve knowledge of spatial dynamics and stock identity.
  • Efforts are continuing in North Sea states with assessing bycatch, developing alternative mitigation methods and developing frameworks for determining safe bycatch limits.
Weaknesses
  • European seabass is a species with high vulnerability to over-exploitation and localized depletion, given its life history characteristics.
  • The combination of declining recruitment since 2008 and increasing fishing effort is causing a rapid decline in biomass.
  • Although this critical situation, no management plan to substantially reduce fishing mortality throughout the range of the stock has been agreed yet.
  • Improvement in monitoring systems in seabird and marine mammal bycatch is needed to accurately quantify impacts on these populations.
RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 31 August 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators

1. Start a fishery improvement project to address sustainability issues in this fishery. For advice on starting a FIP, see SFP’s Seafood Industry Guide to FIPs at http://www.sustainablefish.org/publications/2014/04/30/the-seafood-industry-guide-to-fips.
2. Communicate to fishery managers that there are sustainability issues in this fishery that may be affecting the sale of products, and request that they comprehensively evaluate and address such issues.

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain

1. Encourage your supply chain to start a fishery improvement project. For advice on starting a FIP see SFP’s Seafood Industry Guide to FIPs at http://www.sustainablefish.org/publications/2014/04/30/the-seafood-industry-guide-to-fips.
2. Work with other suppliers and buyers on a pre-competitive basis to start a supplier roundtable to review improvement needs in this and other similar fisheries, catalyze fishery improvement projects, and monitor progress in improvement efforts.

Netherlands

Last updated on 31 August 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators

1. Work actively to address and close out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery in the agreed timeframe.
2. Report achievements publicly to share progress with buyers.

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain

1. Monitor the progress in closing out conditions placed upon the certification of the fishery and if agreed timelines are met.
2. If timelines are not being met, contact the MSC client fishery (details are available on the MSC website) and request timely implementation of improvement action to address conditions.
3.Express your support to help meet conditions that may be at a government/regulatory level (where applicable). Please contact the relevant SFP Sector Group or Supplier Roundtable for more specific information.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 13 October 2014

The stock structure of European seabass in the Northeast Atlantic remains uncertain (ICES, 2014a,b). Seabass research programs for improving knowledge of spatial dynamics are underway in France and UK (ICES, 2014a). Sea bass are mainly targeted by French and UK pelagic pair trawlers on offshore spawning grounds during December to April, and are taken as seasonal target or bycatch by a large fleet of inshore vessels using a variety of gears methods (e.g. trawl, handline, longline, nets, rod and line) in several states. Also, sea bass is an important marine recreational angling species in the UK, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

Previous to 2012 seabass was assessed as a single stock for the Northeast Atlantic, since then the stock structure been redefined and benchmarked (ICES, 2012a,b), but due to insufficient data it was just a ‘trends only’ type of assessment. A trend-based age and length analytical assessment (Stock Synthesis 3 – SS3) was conducted for the first time for this stock unit in 2013 (ICES, 2013a). An Inter-Benchmark Protocol for Sea Bass in the Irish Sea (IBP-Bass) was conducted in 2014 to improve the inputs and formulation of the model. Improvements to the data and assessment allowed a new benchmark of the stock and estimates of fishing mortality, biomass, and yield-per-recruit biological reference points to be presented (ICES, 2014a,b).

ICES identified uncertainties, e.g. lack of a time-series of recreational catches, absence of length compositions for French fleets prior to 2000, unknown survival rates of seabass discarded from commercial vessels and anglers, potential underestimation of landings from the small-scale fisheries, abundance indices from two surveys in the eastern English Channel may not be fully representative of the stock as a whole and effects of targeting offshore spawning aggregations of seabass in the English Channel and Celtic Sea are poorly understood, given their strong site fidelity. Despite these uncertainties, data were considered adequate for providing quantitative advice and the trends in biomass, recruitment, and fishing mortality are considered by ICES to be robust (ICES, 2014b).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 17 October 2014

ICES advice for 2015 was based on a recent analytical assessment, on the basis of the MSY approach. The implied total landings should be no more than 1155 tons, however there is no basis for advising on the allocation of the advised landings to commercial and recreational fisheries (ICES, 2014b).

ICES recommendations for 2013 on increased research in terms of the stock structure are underway (ICES, 2012a; 2014a,b). However, recommendations on further effort limitations in the offshore fishery and implementation of input controls aiming the protection of juvenile fish have been only partially addressed by some new measures by country, and no management plan with objectives and harvest control rules for the stock level has been developed (ICES, 2014a).

With the stock in decline and no effective control on these fisheries, the risk of stock collapse is currently very high unless strong year classes are produced again. Therefore, ICES advised that a management plan is urgently needed to develop and implement measures to substantially reduce fishing mortality throughout the range of the stock, to prevent stock further decline in the short term due to recent low recruitment (ICES, 2014a,b).

Reference Points

Last updated on 17 Oct 2014

The assessment conducted in 2014 allowed ICES to propose a proxy biological reference point for fishing mortality that would allow the stock to attain 35% of the spawning-per-recruit production, F35%SPR, as a proxy for FMSY considering seabass delayed maturity, slow growth and inherent longevity (to ~30 years) (ICES, 2014a). F35%SPR(age 5–11) estimated value is 0.13 for combined commercial and recreational fisheries.

ICES also proposed the lowest observed spawning stock biomass (SSB) of 5250 t to be considered as Blim, the limit reference point for SSB (ICES, 2014a).

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 14 October 2014

Recent stock assessment indicates that spawning stock biomass (SSB) is decreasing and recruitment is currently very poor (ICES, 2014b), however there is almost no information to indicate that the declining recruitment is due to the low SSB. Recruitment of seabass has varied widely in response to environmental factors, survival of juvenile seabass in nursery areas in estuaries and salt-marshes is thought to be enhanced by warmer conditions promoting survival through the first two winters, and increasing the growth rates. The winter of 2013/2014 was warmer than in previous years, although characterized by widespread flooding around estuaries that include some bass nursery areas. The effect of the flooding on bass recruitment is not known (ICES, 2014a,b).

The combined commercial and recreational fishery F is well above the FMSY proxy for several years. The combination of declining recruitment and increasing F is causing a rapid decline in biomass. The stock is likely to decline further in the short term due to recent low recruitment.

Seabass grow slowly, juveniles up to three years of age occupy nursery areas in estuaries whilst adults undertake seasonal migrations from inshore habitats to offshore spawning sites where they are targeted by pelagic trawlers. After spawning, seabass tend to return to the same coastal sites each year. The combination of slow growth, late maturity, spawning aggregation, and strong site fidelity increases the vulnerability of seabass to overexploitation and localized depletion. The effects of targeting of offshore spawning aggregations of seabass in the English Channel and Celtic Sea are poorly understood, particularly how the fishing effort is distributed in relation to mixing of fish from different nursery grounds or summer feeding grounds, given the strong site fidelity of seabass. This is a subject of a new scientific study on seabass in the UK (ICES, 2014a).

Trends

Last updated on 14 Oct 2014

Along the historical series, catches showed intermittent oscillations between years, which coincided with strong year classes and poor recruitment (ICES, 2012b). Overall, commercial landings of seabass in the Northeast Atlantic ranged from 3.5 and 4.5 thousand tons between 1985 and 1995. Strong year classes in 1989, 1995 and 1997 caused a rapid increase in biomass and a northward expansion of the stock. From the mid-90s onwards there was a consequent establishment of fisheries in the North Sea and an increase in landings (ICES, 2014a). Recruitment has been declining since the mid-2000s and recruitment estimates are well below average from 2008 onwards.

As European seabass recruitment is largely controlled by large-scale environmental patterns. Strong year classes are associated with higher temperatures rather than the spawning stock biomass.There is, therefore, no stock-recruit relationship for bass that could be modelled, either to explain past or to predict future recruitment patterns (ICES, 2014a).

The winter of 2012/2013 was one of the coldest on record in the UK, but the winter of 2013/2014 was much warmer. WGCSE included this information in the model for predictions. The F for 2013 indicated a relatively large increase from the estimate for previous years, which indicates that biomass has continued to decline rapidly whilst landings are being maintained. European seabass strongly aggregates for spawning, therefore it is possible for fisheries to maintain landings as total stock size declines, and hence inflict an increasing fishing mortality rate (ICES, 2014a).

The biomass prior to 1990 was declining during a period of poor recruitment, and the recent decline in biomass also coincides with a period of poor recruitment, but under conditions of higher F than estimated for the 1980s. Total biomass reacts more quickly than SSB due to the delayed maturity. The combination of declining recruitment and increasing F is causing a rapid decline in biomass. The stock is likely to decline further in the short term due to recent low recruitment (ICES, 2014b).

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 17 October 2014

There are no management objectives or management plan defined for European sea bass. Discussions have been underway between the European Commission and member States to set measures to reduce fishing mortality on bass, but no plan have been agreed (ICES, 2014a).

The stock is not managed through TACs or quotas. At the European level, other than a 36 cm minimum landing size [Council Regulation (EC) No. 850/98], effort limitations for vessels fishing within cod recovery zones, and mesh size restrictions in regions 1 and 2 of EU waters (ICES, 2014). At the country level, a series of national regulations are however in place. These include fishing closures for specific gears and areas (UK), minimum mesh sizes (UK), specific licensing systems (France), landing limits (UK and France). For recreational fishing, national regulations include minimum landing sizes (e.g. 42 cm minimum landing size in France), restrictions on sale of catch, bag limits (Ireland and Netherlands), and gear restrictions Netherlands (France) (ICES, 2014a).

A new Data Collection Framework (DCF) will be adopted in 2015 to improve implementation of the EU regulation (ICES, 2014c).

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 17 Oct 2014

The stock is rapidly declining. No recovery plan is in place; however measures to substantially reduce fishing mortality throughout the range of the stock have been advised as urgently needed (ICES, 2014b).

Netherlands
Pole-lines hand operated

Last updated on 17 October 2014

In Netherlands, there are clearly defined management objectives for Dutch North Sea fisheries in general (Pawson et al., 2011). The fishery has joined the observation group for the ICES Benchmark Assessment for sea bass and has updated its management plan to include fishery-specific management objectives. These are mainly operational (ecological: don’t fish smaller bass, fish mainly between Apr-Dec, collect rubbish and bring it ashore, etc., and economical: fish enough days and catch enough fish to make it economical rewarding, fish for other species if needed and social-economical: positively contribute to the image of the smaller commercial hand line fishery, contribute to local employment). Performance indicators have been provided, e.g. reduce the amount of smaller fish <30% (Pawson et al., 2013). For recreational fishing, a 20kg bag limit for fishermen was implemented in 2014, supported by this fishery and the sports fishing organization Sportvisserij Nederland, in order to reduce fishing effort (Gascoigne and Pawson, 2013).

United Kingdom

National regulations to manage the seabass are  in place in the UK: i) weekly landing limits for trawlers (5 tonnes/boat); ii) closures of known seabass nursery areas, to specific methods; and iii) a regional MLS of 37.5 cm in Cornwall and South Wales. Since 2006, there is also a specific legislation requiring registration of Buyers and Sellers, which is assumed to have improved accuracy of reported landings in the UK (ICES, 2014a).

Management measures and enforcement are still needed to accurately quantify and to reduce discarding of juvenile seabass by 80–90 mm mesh netting in or near areas they are most abundant. Improvements to fishery selectivity are needed to allow more fish to spawn at least once before capture (ICES, 2014a).

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 14 October 2014

The European seabass is not managed through EU TACs or quotas. There are no harvest control rules in place. Depending on the country, various several management regulations are in place (e.g., minimum landing sizes, minimum mesh sizes, licensing schemes) (ICES, 2014a), but the degree to what fishermen comply with these regulations is unknown.

In recent years the reporting system of landings has improved in UK and France. However, there is still poor reporting accuracy of landings for small vessels (<10m) that do not supply EU logbooks and where monitoring coverage has been low (ICES, 2014a).

Netherlands

Enforcement of regulations and compliance with the management system are assumed to be high. However, the level of control of landings is considered poor, probably resulting in under-reporting of quota managed species (e.g., Atlantic cod) (Pawson et al., 2011).

United Kingdom

Enforcement of reguations and compliance with the management system are deemed strong (Nichols et al., 2007). In recent years the reporting system of landings has improved in UK. However, discards cannot be fully quantified (estimated in the order of 5% in weight) due to current low sampling rates (ICES, 2014a,b).

Single boat bottom otter trawls

Last updated on 22 May 2013

Compliance with the management system is deemed to have improved in recent years (Andrews and Pawson, 2011).

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Last updated on 17 October 2014

In 2004, a Council Regulation (EC No. 812/2004) was put in place to lay down measures to mitigate cetacean bycatch within EU waters. This regulation required monitoring programs of cetacean bycatch for vessels ≥ 15m. National reports are submitted to the European Commission by Member States (ICES, 2014c). For example, significant bycatch of short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) by trammelnet and midwater pair trawl, and harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) by set gillnets, was reported.

However, many fleets fishing European seabass within the stock are composed by smaller vessels, many of which only fish part-time and are not required to keep a logbook, recording their catches only in monthly landing declarations. This constitutes a challenge to get reliable bycatch rates, however, methods have been developed successfully for assessing bycatch in the <15 m fleet, such as reference fleet and remote electronic monitoring, but have been little implemented in the North Sea and this could be improved. Still, ICES indicates that efforts are continuing in North Sea states with assessing bycatch, developing alternative mitigation methods and developing frameworks for determining safe bycatch limits (ICES, 2014c).

Netherlands
Pole-lines hand operated

Last updated on 22 May 2013

The gear used in this fishery poses very low risk to seabirds, and it is unlikely to cause any bycatch or mortality of ETP seabirds. Due to the nature of the fishery, marine mammals are not affected. Capture of some protected shark species as the spurdog Squalus acanthias (IUCN red list: “Vulnerable”; IUCN, 2012) may occur but it is rare (Pawson et al., 2011).

United Kingdom
Gillnets and entangling nets

Last updated on 14 October 2014

Gillnet fisheries represent the highest risk to harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). To reduce risk, UK has implemented the use of acoustic deterrent devices (pingers) in accordant with Council Regulation (EC) No. 812/2004 for vessels > 12 m in length using gillnets in most areas, except in Area IV (ICES, 2014c).

Regulation (EC) No. 812/2004 also required monitoring schemes for cetacean bycatch on vessels > 15m using bottom-set gillnet, however just for the Irish Sea area. A recording scheme was undergone to record seabird and mammal bycatch as a condition for certification for certification in 2007, therefore some limited data are available for this fleet since then. In 2012, bycatch included small numbers of harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus), and higher numbers of grey seals (Halichoerus grypu) (ICES, 2014c). Information is lacking for some fishing areas and vessels <15m.

There is some bycatch of seabirds, mostly of guillemots Uria aalge (“Least Concern”; 2012 IUCN Red List) and razorbills Alca torda (“Least Concern”;2012 IUCN Red List). The majority is released alive. Impacts of the fishery are not considered to threaten the seabird populations involved (Nichols et al., 2007).

Single boat bottom otter trawls

Last updated on 17 October 2014

There is no current information from this fishery on the level of bycatch. The bottom trawl fishery in UK is composed by a large fleet of smaller vessels (<15m), for which cetacean monitoring is not mandatory (ICES, 2014c).

Several elasmobranch species that are listed as Biodiversity Action Plan priority species at the UK and Welsh level, are known to be caught by bottom trawlers (e.g. undulate ray Raja undulate, common skate Dipturus batis and angel shark Squatina squatina), but bycatch data is not collected on a systematic manner for this fleet (ICES, 2014c).

No seabird protected species have been addressed as a bycatch issue for this fleet (ICES, 2014c).

Protected fish species by the Habitats Directive (Council Directive 92/43/EEC), such as lampreys (Lampetra fluviatilis and Lethenteron zanandrai) and shads (Alosa spp.) are being bycaught by this fleet. Data, although limited, is being reported by UK to the ICES Working Group on Bycatch of Protected Species (WGBYC) (ICES, 2014c).

Midwater pair trawls

Last updated on 17 October 2014

The most affected species by the midwater pair trawl fishery is the short-beaked common dolphin Delphinus delphis (“Least Concern”; 2012 IUCN Red List) (Boer et al., 2012; Mannocci et al., 2012; ICES, 2013a). Most of the interactions with this fishery have been reported to generally taking place mostly during the towing process, when dolphins approach the nets to feed (Boer et al., 2012).

As a response to this problem, in 2004 the UK government banned pair trawling for bass by UK vessels within 12 miles in ICES division VIIe (SW coast of England) (Statutory Instrument No. 3397 de 2004). In 2004, a European regulation was also put in place to lay down measures to mitigate cetacean bycatch within EU waters. Specifically to the midwater trawl fishery, this regulation required monitoring programs of cetacean bycatch for vessels ≥15m (Council Regulation (EC) No. 812/2004).

In 2012, the UK report on protected bycatch species to the European Commission stated that pingers have been trialed for a number of years in the Western English Channel midwater pair trawl fishery for bass. Over 90% of total effort in the fishery was monitored by independent observers and the recorded cetacean bycatch was three common dolphins. Since this model of pinger has been used regularly in this fishery bycatch rates have been considerably lower than in preceding years. However, these trials have not used a controlled experimental approach with test and control tows, though it is difficult to determine the exact effect that pingers are having because other as yet unknown or unquantified factors may also be influencing observed results (ICES, 2014c).

Midwater trawls

Last updated on 27 May 2013

There is some bycatch of marine mammals, mostly of short-beaked common dolphin Delphinus delphis; “Least Concern”; 2012 IUCN Red List) by the midwater trawling and in some areas (ICES, 2013a).

In 2004, a European regulation was also put in place to lay down measures to mitigate cetacean bycatch within EU waters. Specifically to the midwater trawl fishery, this regulation required monitoring programs of cetacean bycatch for vessels ≥15m (Council Regulation (EC) No. 812/2004). In the UK, research on mitigation measures to reduce bycatch of marine mammals is also underway (DEFRA, 2009).

Other Species

Last updated on 14 October 2014

Improvement in monitoring systems in seabird and marine mammal bycatch is needed to accurately quantify impacts on these populations.

There is some bycatch of marine mammals by the trawling and gillneting fisheries in some areas (ICES, 2013a). Information on bycatch of species other than cetaceans is generally scarce (ICES, 2014c).

Discarding of seabass in the commercial fisheries is assumed to be low overall, but cannot be accurately quantified as sampling for toweled under-10m vessels is limited. There is therefore a large potential for bias in the discards estimates (ICES, 2014a). Generally the highest discard rates are for UK trawlers using 80–89 mm mesh in the eastern Channel (VIId) and southern North Sea, and consitute a main issue at present. Discard estimates of gillnetters were much lower. Discards are almost entirely related to the MLS of 36 cm (ICES, 2014a).

Elasmobranchs in the Celtic Seas ecoregion are taken as a bycatch by otter trawl, beam trawl and bottom-set gillnets (ICES, 2013b).

Methods have been developed successfully for assessing bycatch in the <15 m fleet, such as a Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM), but have been little implemented in the North Sea. However, efforts are continuing in North Sea states with assessing bycatch, developing alternative mitigation methods and developing frameworks for determining safe bycatch limits (ICES, 2014c).

Netherlands
Pole-lines hand operated

Last updated on 22 May 2013

All the species captured in this fishery, unless protected, are generally retained, thus bycatch and discards are deemed very low.The gear used in this fishery also poses very low risk to seabirds, and it is unlikely to cause any bycatch or mortality of any seabirds (Pawson et al., 2011).

United Kingdom
Gillnets and entangling nets

Last updated on 24 May 2013

Bycatch levels of other species are low in this fishery. The most important non-target species are whiting, sole, cod and sea trout, and impacts on on these species regarded to be monitored (Nichols et al., 2007).

Single boat bottom otter trawls

Last updated on 17 October 2014

There is no current information from this fishery on the level of bycatch (ICES, 2014c).

Discarding of juvenile bass is an issue at present for some small-mesh (80–90 mm) trawlers operating inshore, where these are most abundant. Sampling for toweled under-10m vessels is limited. There is therefore a large potential for bias in the discards estimates (ICES, 2014a).

An independent estimate of bass discarding was given by Fisheries Science Partnership, a collaborative program of scientific research between the UK fishing industry and scientists in 2009, reporting a 30% proportion of the catch of undersized bass discarded in typical trawls in the Bristol Channel (Andrews and Pawson, 2011). The same study indicated that most significant commercial bycatch species are plaice (Pleuronectes platessa), small-eyed ray (Raja microocellata) and thornback ray (Raja clavata). Most discarded species are starry smooth hounds (Mustelus asterias), lesser spotted dogfish (Scyliorhinus canicula) (though some are landed for pot bait) and greater spotted dogfish (Scyliorhinus stellaris) (Andrews and Pawson, 2011).

These species have been assessed in recent years and ICES advised that catches could be increased by a maximum of 20% (ICES, 2013b). Mustelus asterias is a “Least Concern” species (2014 IUCN Red List). Plaice populations in WK waters are stable or increasing, however, ICES indicated that management measures to reduce discards are needed in VIIa,f,g (ICES, 2014d,e).

Midwater pair trawls

Last updated on 17 October 2014

There is very little information from this fishery on not PET species bycatch (ICES, 2014c).

Longlines

Last updated on 17 October 2014

Line gears have not been sampled, but mortality of discards for this gear is considered as low (ICES, 2014a). 

HABITAT

Last updated on 17 October 2014

Seabass is taken by a multitude of fishing gears, each with different potential to impact the bottom habitats. Bottom Trawling, which takes place mostly in inshore waters, has generally the highest potential to affect the physical habitat structure and benthic communities (Callaway et al., 2007; Hinz et al., 2009). However, there is a lack of specific information on the impact of demersal trawling for seabass on the bottom communities and habitats.

An ICES Working Group on the value of Coastal Habitats for Exploited Species (WGVHES) was recently appointed to attempt improving predictions of fishery yield, age class strength and long-term population status for species of commercial value, and to define key habitats for restoration efforts (ICES, 2013c). Preliminar results have been recently submitted for publication.

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 17 Oct 2014

In 2003, a joint ministerial meeting of the Helsinki and OSPAR commission (JMM), agreed to establish a Network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the Northeast Atlantic. Around 6.35% of the North sea area has been proposed for this OSPAR MPA Network (OSPAR Commission, 2011).

Netherlands
Pole-lines hand operated

Last updated on 22 May 2013

Impact on the seafloor is deemed negligible in this fishery (Pawson et al., 2011).

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 22 May 2013

No specific area or season closures are known to be in place to protect seabass. The Netherlands have designated however five Natura 2000 sites under the OSPAR Network of Marine Protected Areas (OSPAR, 2011).

United Kingdom
Marine Reserves

There is a comprehensive network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the United Kingdom which includes several kinds of habitats. For seabass specifically, closures of known seabass nursery areas are in place in England and Wales (ICES, 2012b). In Brittany, there is a voluntary closed season for long-line and hand-line sea bass fisheries (ICES, 2014a).

Gillnets and entangling nets

Last updated on 17 October 2014

Long-term impact on the habitat is very low, given the highly dynamic and exposed nature of the intertidal sandy zone.
Gear loss is low, and if lost, ghost fishing is not considered an issue because the light gear becomes quickly rolled into a tight ball where its catchability is zero (Nichols et al., 2007).

Single boat bottom otter trawls

Last updated on 17 October 2014

Bottom trawling, which takes place mostly in inshore waters, has generally the highest potential to affect the physical habitat structure and benthic communities (Callaway et al., 2007; Hinz et al., 2009). However, there is a lack of specific information on the impact of demersal trawling for seabass on the bottom communities and habitats, and given that the fishery takes place mostly on mobile sand banks, significant long-term effects on the benthic habitats have been regarded as unlikely (Andrews and Pawson, 2011).

An ICES Working Group on the value of Coastal Habitats for Exploited Species (WGVHES) was recently appointed to attempt improving predictions of fishery yield, age class strength and long-term population status for species of commercial value, and to define key habitats for restoration efforts (ICES, 2013c). Preliminary results have been recently submitted for publication.

FishSource Scores

SELECT SCORES

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2014 data.

The score is < 6.

The stock is not managed through quotas or TACs. No management objectives or harvest control rule has been defined yet for both commercial and recreational fisheries. Declining recruitment and increasing fishing mortality (F) is causing a rapid decline in biomass, therefore F should urgently be reduced throughout the range of the stock (ICES, 2014a,b).

Different components of this assessment unit score differently at the fishery level. Please look at the individual fisheries using the selection drop down above.

As calculated for 2014 data.

The score is < 6.

A reduction in landings and fishing mortality was advised by ICES for 2014 and again for 2015 (ICES, 2013a, 2014b). There are national regulations in place by country to limit effort for both commercial and recreational fisheries. However, as seabass is at present a non-TAC species, displacement of fishing effort from other species and consequent increased the fishing mortality have been observed in the stock in recent years.

Different components of this assessment unit score differently at the fishery level. Please look at the individual fisheries using the selection drop down above.

As calculated for 2014 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

The stock is not managed through quotas or TACs. There are management measures at the European level: 36 cm minimum landing size [Council Regulation (EC) No. 850/98], effort limitations for vessels fishing within cod recovery zones, and mesh size restrictions in regions 1 and 2 of EU waters (ICES, 2014a). In general, compliance with the management system is deemed to be good or have improved in recent years.

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2014 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

No target reference point is set for the stock. Actual spawning stock biomass (SSB) is 9655 t, above the limit reference point for spawning stock biomass (Blim) proposed at 5250 t (ICES, 2014a,b). However, the stock is recognizably below a level that would sustain long-term catches. The combination of declining recruitment and increasing F is causing a rapid decline in biomass since 2010.

As calculated for 2013 data.

The score is 0.1.

This measures the F as a percentage of the F35%SPR.

The F is 0.387 (age-averaged). The F35%SPR is 0.130 .

The underlying F/F35%SPR for this index is 298%.

To see data for biomass, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for catch and tac, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for fishing mortality, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for recruitment
No data available for recruitment
To see data for management quality, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for stock status, please view this site on a desktop.
DATA NOTES
  1. In the absence of reference points and set TACs, scores 1, 2, 3 and 4 have been determined qualitatively, based on available information.
  2. The spawning stock biomass (SSB) and fishing mortality (F) estimates are from the latest benchmark assessment (ICES, 2014a).

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

SELECT MSC

NAME

Bristol Channel sea bass

STATUS

Withdrawn on 4 December 2014

SCORES

Principle Level Scores:

Principle Score
Principle 1 – Target Species 77.5
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 79.33
Principle 3 – Management System 79.25

2014-12-18 23:33:55 - SFP changed status from MSC Full Assessment to Withdrawn 2012-04-09 11:54:23 - SFP changed status from Unknown to MSC Full Assessment 2012-04-09 11:49:26 - SFP created MSC Assessment Sheet

Certification Type:

Sources

Credits
  1. Andrews, J., Pawson, M. 2011. MSC Assessment Report for the Bristol Channel Bass Trawl Fishery. 144 pp. http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/in-assessment/north-east-atlantic/Bristol-Channel-sea-bass/assessment-downloads-1/11.08.2011_Bass_Assessment_Final_Report.pdf
  2. Boer, MN de, Saulino, James T, Leopold, Mardik F, Reijnders, Peter JH and Simmonds, Mark P, 2012. Interactions between short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and the winter pelagic pair-trawl fishery off Southwest England (UK). International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, 4, 13: 481-499.http://www.academicjournals.org/IJBC/abstracts/abstracts/abstracts2012/Oct/de%20Boer%20et%20al.htm
  3. Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. 52 pp.http://www.central2013.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/Downloads/Document_Centre/OP_Resources/HABITAT_DIRECTIVE_92-43-EEC.pdf
  4. Council Regulation (EC) No. 850/98 of 30 March 1998 for the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures for the protection of juveniles of marine organisms. 36 pp.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:1998:125:0001:0036:EN:PDF
  5. Council Regulation (EC) No 812/2004 of 26.4.2004 laying down measures concerning incidental catches of cetaceans in fisheries and amending Regulation (EC) No 88/98. 20 pp.http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2004:150:0012:0031:EN:PDF
  6. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), 2009. Protection of marine species: Cetaceans. DEFRA Website. [last modified on 03 August 2009].http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/fisheries/protect/cetaceans.htm#2
  7. Gascoigne, J., Pawson, M., 2013. Surveillance Visit Report for Dutch Rod and Line Fishery for Sea Bass. 2nd Annual Surveillance. MacAlister Elliott and Partners, December 2013. 19pphttp://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/north-east-atlantic/dutch_rod_and_line_fishery_for_sea_bass/assessment-downloads-1/20131227_SR_BAS189.pdf
  8. ICES, 2012a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, Book 9: Widely distributed and migratory stocks 9.4.23 European seabass in the Northeast Atlantic. Advice summary for 2013, 14 pp.http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2012/2012/Bss-comb.pdf
  9. ICES, 2012b. Report of the Inter-Benchmark Protocol on New Species (Turbot and Sea bass; IBPNew 2012). ICES CM 2012/ACOM:45. 239 pp.http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2012/IBP%20New/ibpNew_2012.pdf
  10. ICES, 2012c. Report of the Working Group on Assessment of New MoU Species (WGNEW), 5 - 9 March 2012, ICES CM 2012/ACOM:20. 258 pp.http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2012/WGNEW/WGNEW%20final%20May%202012.pdf
  11. ICES, 2013a. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, Book 5: Celtic Sea and West of Scotland + North Sea 5.4.32 European sea bass in Divisions IVbc, VIIa, and VIId–h (Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, English Channel, and southern North Sea). Advice summary for 2014, 8 pp. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2013/2013/bss-47.pdf
  12. ICES, 2013b. Report of the Working Group on Elasmobranch Fishes (WGEF), 17–21 June, Lisbon, Portugal . ICES CM 2013/ACOM:19. 688 pp. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2013/WGEF/wgef_2013.pdf
  13. ICES, 2013c. Report of the Working Group on the value of Coastal Habitats for Exploited Species (WGVHES), 17-21 June 2013, ICES Headquarters, Copenhagen. CM 2013/SSGSUE:04. 25 pp. http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/SSGSUE/2013/WGVHES13.pdf
  14. ICES, 2014a. Report of the Working Group on Celtic Seas Ecoregion (WGCSE), 13–22 May, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2014/ACOM:12 DRAFT. 1729 pp. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2014/WGCSE/IntermediateDraft_WGCSE2014.pdf
  15. ICES, 2014b. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, Book 5: Celtic Sea and West of Scotland + North Sea 5.4.32 European sea bass in Divisions IVbc, VIIa, and VIId–h (Irish Sea, Celtic Sea, English Channel, and southern North Sea. Advice summary for 2015, 9 pp. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2014/2014/bss-47.pdf
  16. ICES, 2014c. Report of the Working Group on Bycatch of Protected Species (WGBYC), 4–7 February, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2014/ACOM:28. 96 pp. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2014/WGBYC/wgbyc_2014.pdf
  17. ICES, 2014d. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, Book 5: Celtic Sea and West of Scotland + North Sea 5.4.26 Plaice in Divisions VIIf,g (Celtic Sea). Advice summary for 2015, 7 pp. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2014/2014/ple-celt.pdf
  18. ICES, 2014e. Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, Book 5: Celtic Sea and West of Scotland + North Sea 5.4.23 Plaice in Divisions VIIa (Irish Sea). Advice summary for 2015, 10 pp. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2014/2014/ple-iris.pdf
  19. IUCN, 2012. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. Downloaded on 18 February 2012. http://www.iucnredlist.org
  20. IUCN, 2014. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. . Downloaded on 9 October 2014. http://www.iucnredlist.org
  21. Mannocci, Laura, Dabin, Willy, Augeraud-Véron, Emmanuelle, Dupuy, Jean-François, Barbraud, Christophe and Ridoux, Vincent, 2012. Assessing the Impact of Bycatch on Dolphin Populations: The Case of the Common Dolphin in the Eastern North Atlantic. PLoS One, 7, 2: e32615.http://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0032615
  22. Nichols, J, Huntington, T, Bennett, D. and Hough, A., 2007. Public Certification Report for the NESFC Sea Bass Fishery. Moody Marine Ltd. October 2007. 99 pp.http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/exiting-the-program/withdrawn/north_eastern_Inshore_fisheries_and_conservation_authority_sea_bass/assessment-downloads-1/Certification_Report_October2007.pdf
  23. OSPAR, 2010. 2009/10 Status Report on the OSPAR Network of Marine Protected Areas. Publ. no. 493/2010. OSPAR Commission: Biodiversity Series. 61 pp.http://www.ospar.org/documents/dbase/publications/p00493_Status%20report%20MPAs.pdf
  24. Pawson, M.G., Keus, B.J., Vader, J., van Looij – van der Lelij, J. 2013. Dutch Rod and Line Fishery for Sea Bass - First Annual Surveillance Report. SGS Product & Process Certification. 17pp.http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/north-east-atlantic/dutch_rod_and_line_fishery_for_sea_bass/assessment-downloads-1/20130304_SR_BAS189.pdf
  25. Pawson, M., Keus, B.J. and Buijs, S., 2011. Public Certification Report for the Dutch Rod and Line Fishery for Sea Bass. SGS Product & Process. December 2011. 161 pp.http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/north-east-atlantic/dutch_rod_and_line_fishery_for_sea_bass/assessment-downloads-1/20111214_VBHL_Sea_Bass_Public_Certification_Report.pdf
  26. Statutory Instrument 2004 No. 3397, 2004. SEA FISHERIES, ENGLAND. RESTRICTION OF SEA FISHING. The South-west Territorial Waters (Prohibition of Pair Trawling). Order 2004. 2 pp.http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/3397/pdfs/uksi_20043397_en.pdf

Additional References

  1. Callaway, R., Engelhard, G.H., Dann, J., Cotter, J. and Rumohr, H., 2007. A century of North Sea epibenthos and trawling: comparison between 1902-1912, 1982-1985 and 2000. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 346: 27-43.
  2. Hinz, Hilmar, Prieto, Virginia and Kaiser, Michel J., 2009. Trawl disturbance on benthic communities: chronic effects and experimental predictions. Ecological Applications, 19, 3: 761-773.
References

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    European seabass - North and Celtic Seas and English Channel

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