Commercial Over-Fishing Puts Sea Bass Stock in Jeopardy

As a result of commercial over-fishing, the Sea Bass stock is now so low that we are facing an environmental disaster.  In 2016, the EU Commission said that the scientific advice for Sea Bass is very alarming and that it is vital to rebuild the Sea Bass stock for the benefit of both commercial fishermen and sea angling members of the public.

The following graph shows the precipitous decline of the Sea Bass spawning stock.


EU scientists said in April 2015: “The spawning stock biomass is declining towards the lowest historically observed level.” Sadly, in 2016, we indeed reached an all-time low for the spawning stock biomass: 7,320 tonnes. The forecast for 2017 is even worse: just 6,219 tonnes. To put this into context, average commercial landings in 2010-2013 were 4,136 tonnes, so the current spawning stock is equivalent to just one and a half year’s commercial sea bass landings.

When a stock falls below Btrigger, fishery managers are supposed to take action to get the stock back above Btrigger as quickly as possible. But the spawning stock is now well below Blim. This means there is a high probability that the stock’s ability to regenerate itself will be impaired due to insufficient egg production. The risk now is that, even if fishing is much reduced, the stock fails to recover as expected and remains depleted for extended periods. This is what happened to Cod in the Newfoundland Grand banks.

Because of this, the EU scientists recommend zero landings for 2017. This hasn’t happened because the UK, French, Dutch and Belgium Fishery Ministers are desperate to provide short-term fishing opportunities for inshore fishermen, even if that means letting them destroy the long-term future of the Sea Bass fishery – complete madness.