Bass, seabass (Caught at sea)

Dicentrarchus labrax

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — West of Scotland, West of Ireland and eastern part of Southwest of Ireland
Stock detail — 6a, 7b, 7j
Picture of Bass, seabass (Caught at sea)

Sustainability rating four info

Sustainability overview

The state of the stock and fishery relative to reference points is unknown and information on abundance and catches is unavailable. Stock identity remains poorly understood.


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.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Stock Area

West of Scotland, West of Ireland and eastern part of Southwest of Ireland

Stock information

The state of the stock and fishery relative to reference points is unknown and information on abundance and exploitation is unavailable. Stock identity remains poorly understood and tagging studies are ongoing. Official reported landings are low and fluctuate without any trends (a maximum of 9 tonnes was landed in 2010). Most of the reported official landings are from Division 7j. ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, commercial landings should be no more than 4 tonnes in each of the years 2018, 2019 and 2020 (5 tonnes in each of the years 2016 and 2017). Total catch and discard rates are unknown.


Criterion score: 0.75 info

There is no management plan for sea bass in this area. A moratorium on the landings of sea bass in commercial fisheries has been in place in Ireland since 1990. The industry reports high sporadic catches which are discarded due to the moratorium. Recreational fisheries in Ireland are subject to bag limits of 2 fish/24 hrs, a 40 cm minimum size limit, and a closed season from 15th May to 15th June annually.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

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. Sea bass landings by shore anglers in Ireland were estimated at 30 t in 2010 and 44 t in 2011.


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
Cod, Pacific Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, Cape
Hake, European
Monkfish, Anglerfish
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)


ICES Advice 2017. ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort Celtic Seas ecoregion. bss.27.6a7bj. Published 30 June 2017. Available at: (Accessed November 2018)