Pouting or Bib

Trisopterus luscus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Gill or fixed net
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — All Areas
Stock detail — 7
Picture of Pouting or Bib

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

The stock status of pouting/ bib is unknown. They are a data-limited species. Though some data are showing declines in their abundance through time. There is a lack of specific management measures in place to protect the species but pouting/ bib may receive incidental protection through management applied to other species, like cod. Management is better in inshore waters some fishermen, like the North Devon Fishermenas Association and the South Devon and Channel Fishermen have voluntary codes of conducts which apply management which protects pouting/ bib populations. Bycatch is generally small but can include important endangered, threatened or protected species. EU Regulation 812/2004 mandates that all cetacean bycatch in for set gillnets and entangling nets with a mesh size > 80mm in ICES areas 6, 7, 8 and 9 are recorded. Bib is mainly a bycatch species due to its relatively minor commercial importance throughout the Celtic Seas. Therefore, bycatch mitigation should be applied to target stocks.


Pouting/bib are a member of the cod family, it is a common fish in inshore waters, particularly in rocky areas where large schools form around wrecks and reefs. Pouting/bib are extremely common in shallow water around the coast of the British Isles. They move inshore to depths of 50 m or less to spawn in March to April. Spawning occurs between March and April and reach sexual maturity in their first year at around 21-25cm. Can attain a size in excess of 40 cm, but more usually between about 20-32 cm. The maximum reported age reached is 4 years. Sub-legal sized pouting/bib usually feed on brown and pink shrimps (Crangon and Pandalus) and shore crabs (Carcinus) in estuaries whilst adultas diets have not been studied. The peak abundance is between mid-September to mid-October with peak spawning between March and May.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Stock Area

All Areas

Stock information

pouting/bib is a data-limited species. There are mixed populations trends with some studies suggesting stock declines and that the species are potentially overfished, however, another source suggests that the stock size appears to be stable. Therefore, there is concern for biomass but no concern for fishing mortality and the species is considered to be of medium resilience.

Pouting/bib are a data-limited species and their stock status is unknown and data that are available, are old. Some sources suggest that the species is likely to be overfished and another study detected a moderate decrease in pouting/bib abundance between 1998 and 2011. Landings were relatively high from 2009 to 2011. They have since declined but there is a lack of data collected on discards and from the recreational sector. Discard survival rates of pouting/bib is very low.

However, ICES catch data show that pouting catches in area 7 have declined generally between 2006 and 2016. Additionally, they are not a targeted species. They are a bycatch species and are of minor commercial importance. They can also be avoided in fishing gear.


Criterion score: 0.5 info

There is very little management applied to pouting/bib. They do not have a minimum size or catch limits and are not managed by harvest control rules. This is mainly because they are not a target species: pouting/bib is regularly retained as a bycatch species in beam trawl and demersal otter trawl fisheries when targeting commercially important species such as Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus). Therefore, management measures are applied through effort controls and technical measures which have been allocated indirectly through the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) management plan (Regulation (EC)1342/2008) and the sole and plaice long-term management plan (Council Regulation (EC) No. 676/2007). However, there is little evidence to prove that these measures were effective in managing pouting/bib stocks.

Management controls are enforced regularly through a variety of surveillance activities including Vessel Monitoring Systemns (VMS), logbooks, dockside monitoring and visual inspections. Compliance rates are thought to be high as infringements seldom occur and therefore are compromise harvest objectives. Since the fleet is predominantly inshore, monitoring, surveillance and enforcement is often reduced due how dispersed and plentiful the fleet are.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Pouting/ Bib is mainly a bycatch species due to its relatively minor commercial importance throughout the Celtic Seas.

Data collected through the EU Habitats Directive show that harbour porpoises, small sharks (smooth-hound, lesser spotted dogfish for example) can become entangled in gillnets. Of concern, particularly in North Cornish waters, are the incidental entanglement of seabirds.

Although bycatches of harbour porpoises occur in this fishery, their overall catch relative to the estimated populations, is not expected to be of concern. To mitigate the risk of entanglement, European vessels over >12 m in length are required to use pingersa on gillnets. However, this is not required on smaller vessels. Since 2013, the UK have reported to be fully-implementing the use of acoustic deterrent devices (ADDs). The Royal Navy and enforcement officers carry out at-sea inspections and have found no infringements were detected in 2013, but some in 2014. The Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans on the Baltic, Northeast Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS) recommended monitoring and mitigation in the UK tangle and gillnet fisheries in the southwest of England in their 2017 report. ASCOBANS has agreed a maximum bycatch limit of 1.7% of the population of harbour porpoise.

Bycatch can also include skates and rays: there is little management to protect the skate and ray species but their landings are monitored. There is also no ETP species management. EC regulations state that landed catches taken from bottom set nets must include at least 70% of specified target species, therefore, IFCAs ensure that gillnets commonly used in fisheries do not exceed bycatch requirements.

Cornwall IFCA have implemented new measures in 2018 to ban netting for sea fish in its rivers and estuaries which will protect juvenile bass and mullet.


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.

Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler
Bass, seabass (Farmed)
Bream, Gilthead (Farmed)
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, Cape
Hake, European
Monkfish, Anglerfish
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)


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Catchpole, T., 2008. Selective Fishing Gear Studies: English and Welsh Otter trawlers in ICES Sub Area VII (2008). Cefas project reference MF1002. December 2008. Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS). 24 pp.http://www.cefas.defra.gov.uk/media/195079/otter%20trawlers%20in%20ices%20vii.pdf

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Armstrong, P. (2017). New bylaw bans netting sea fish in Cornish rivers and estuaries. The Packet. [online] Available at: http://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/fpfalmouth/15846842.New_bylaw_bans_netting_sea_fish_in_Cornish_rivers_and_estuaries/ [Accessed 11 Jul. 2018].

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ASCOBANS. 2017. Cetacean Bycatch Monitoring and Mitigation Under EC Regulation 812/2004 in the Northeast Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea - Interim Report Cetacean. AC23/Inf.6.1.c. Available at: http://www.ascobans.org/sites/default/files/document/AC23_Inf._6.1.c_Interim%20Report%20on%20Bycatch%20and%20Mitigation_WDC.pdf.

Lescrauwaet, A. Torreele, E., Vincx, M., Polet, H., Mees, J., Lindop, A., Zylich, K. 2015. Invisible Catch: A century of by-catch and unreported removals in sea fisheries, Belgium 1950-2010. Working Paper #2015 - 18. The University of British Columbia..

ICES. 2018. DATASET COLLECTIONS: Catch statistics. Available at: http://www.ices.dk/marine-data/dataset-collections/Pages/Fish-catch-and-stock-assessment.aspx. [Accessed 02.08.18]