Pouting or Bib

Trisopterus luscus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
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. Pouting/ bib are mainly caught in demersal otter trawls in the region, and there are mitigation measures to ensure minimal risk to the species and habitat. 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.


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.

Otter trawling can impact the seabed by modifying and disturbing the seafloor, biogenic features or benthic communities. The major impacts are associated with the trawl doors which can produce up to 20cm deep scouring marks. However, the impact of trawling is not only related to the gear type and modifications but also the location and scale in which trawling occurs. For example, areas that are used to natural disturbance through tides and waves, are less sensitive to habitat impacts. Additionally, areas not used to mobile towed gears are typically more sensitive. Therefore, management of gear and fishing is crucial to prevent habitat damage.

Potential Endangered, Threatened and Protected (ETP) species include cetacean species but this is generally very rare. The fisheries can interact with skates and rays and these species are targeted in certain seasons and areas. Their stock status is dependent on the species and its location. These can include catching of prohibited species such as starry smooth-hound (Mustelus asterias), spurdog (Squalus spp.), skate (Dipturus batis) and spurdog (Squalus acanthias), though these are often caught in offshore waters, are required to be returned to the sea quickly, with as little damage as possible and can be a high survivability species.

Pouting/ bib fisheries are usually operated by smaller vessels in inshore grounds. Discard rates vary considerably depending on many factors e.g. gear selectivity and discards are estimated at around 30-40% of total catch weight in European demersal otter trawl fisheries. Results from on-board observers in ICES area 7 indicate that discard rates in the otter trawl fishery can be around 60%. However, gear modifications have been implemented to reduce unwanted catch e.g. juveniles.

Both the North Devon Fishermenas Association and the South Devon and Channel Fishermen have voluntary codes of conduct which entail that fishers conduct activities that ensure minimal negative impacts to sensitive species and habitats and most vessels comply with the RFS scheme (North Devon Fishermenas Association, 2016).

To protect sensitive habitats, some areas such as where ross worm (or sabellaria) are found (in shallower environments) are avoided. Additionally, gear modifications such as Square Mesh Cod-end to reduce the capture of pouting/bib. Since the species is a bycatch species and attracts a high proportion of discards, there is uncertainty regarding how discards will be treated when the landings obligation comes into force.


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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