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Seabass overfished into dangerous waters (Industry Analysis and Opportunity)


Due to an increased level of demand from restaurants and food retailers, the population of seabass is in serious jeopardy, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) report. Poor recruitment of young fish into existing stock living in the Northeast Atlantic means that they are being significantly overfished and the current rate of fishing is far from sustainable.

A legislative agreement imposing fishery management from European Member States is necessary to remedy this unsustainability, however an initial and prolonged lack of such an agreement meant not enough was being done to remedy the problem.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) suggests an 80% reduction in the total number of catches permitted. Although European member states have finally come to certain terms they can agree on, these terms will not reach the reduction advised.

In an attempt to limit the damage, between January to April of this year (2015), the European Commission applied emergency measures to ban the pelagic trawling during the crucial spawning period, the time when the fish reproduce.

Despite that, most recent evidence suggests that the situation may be worse than previously thought and seabass stock is in swift decline. Much more needs to be done and, if it is not, there may need to be a complete – but temporary – ban on fishing for seabass in order to keep the population from reaching such low levels it would prove impossible for the species to recover. 

Emily Hardy BSc

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