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Oceans and fisheries


European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) is a high value species for commercial and recreational fisheries. 


Dicentrarchus labrax © Scandinavian Fishing Year Book
Dicentrarchus labrax © Scandinavian Fishing Year Book

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 EU countries 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. 

A high value species for commercial and recreational fisheries

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


Seabass - Market trends of one of Europe’s top fish (2020)
(5.82 MB - PDF)
Protecting sea bass (2015)
(548.24 KB - PDF)