European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) is a high value species for commercial and recreational fisheries.
There are two main stocks of seabass: northern seabass located in the north-western waters, above the 48° parallel, and southern seabass located in the south-western waters.
European seabass (Latin name: Dicentrarchus labrax)
In 2015, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) scientists advised to reduce catches of northern seabass, as fishing pressure was too high and seabass numbers were reduced. Following this advice, the EU adopted emergency measures for commercial and recreational fisheries to protect the stock, including
• pelagic trawling ban• catch limits for fishing gears and angling• increase of minimum size to 42 cm for commercial and recreational fishers targeting northern seabass • as of 2019, the use of fixed nets is prohibited in recreational seabass fisheries because of their low selectivity (article 10 of the fishing opportunities regulation)
In the south-western waters of the Atlantic Ocean, mainly the Bay of Biscay, southern seabass is in better shape, but Member States should continue their sustainable management efforts of the commercial fisheries of seabass. Recreational fisheries of southern seabass are managed by the EU.
The EU adjusts management measures for northern and southern seabass every year, in the context of the annual fishing quotas regulations, following the independent scientific advice issued by ICES.
Seabass is, on average, the second most expensive North-East Atlantic commercial catch, fished by fleets from France, the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. Find out more in the report about the seabass market and catch trends on the EUMOFA website.
Fact sheet: Seabass - Market trends of one of Europe’s top fish
Infographic: Protecting sea bass – 2015 EU Measures for northern sea bass
Commercial and recreational fisheries for wild seabass in the Atlantic (EUMOFA website)
Pêche commerciale et récréative du bar sauvage dans l'Atlantique (EUMOFA website)
Measures on European seabass fisheries for 2020 (article 10)
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Legislation on conservation of fish stocks (EUR-Lex)
Facts and figures on the CFP
Illegal fishing (IUU)
On 8 January 2021, the EU and Greenland concluded negotiations for a new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and a new Protocol that will strengthen their cooperation in the fisheries sector for the next four years with the possibility of a two-year extension.
The 2020 Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet projects that in 2020, the EU fleet remained profitable overall, despite the effects of COVID-19 on the fleet and fish markets. More sustainable fishing and lower fuel costs have helped to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
The United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed to a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), applicable on a provisional basis from 1 January 2021.