BARGIP: Integrated management of the sea bass populations

The sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) is now one of the most important species, economically speaking, for the French professional fishery (5.000 tons or a first-hand value of 45-50 million euros per year) and the first species targeted by recreational fishery (about 3.000 tons a year).

Sea bass fishery is still relatively unrestricted but discussions are underway at the European Commission and in the Member States in order to propose management measures after the last scientific evaluations of the ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, a commission gathering fishery scientists from the Member States and in charge of fish stocks evaluations and providing management advices to the European Commission) are pointing the beginning of an overexploitation in some parts of the North East Atlantic.

The ICES, in its last conclusions, highlighted the lack of scientific knowledge of this species to manage it the best way (this species is ranked « DLS » which stands for Data Limited Species) and recommend a reinforcement of the tracking and scientific studies among the Member States.

Consequently, on request of the DPMA (Head Department for Maritime Fisheries and Fish Farming at the Ministry of Ecology) and in close relationship with the sea bass Commission of the CNPMEM, Ifremer has started discussions to organize the first researches to conduct for the next 4 to 5 years so that pertinent management measures, based on reliable scientific data, may be found, at national level, but also at European level via the working groups of the ICES.

This process raised 5 priority actions to conduct:

  • « Tagging adults »: find the answer about the existence of only one or several sea bass stocks in North East Atlantic, and identify the great migratory ways between fattening coastline zones and offshore spawning sites. These two tasks may be achieved by large-scale adults tagging operations.

This actions plans that 1.200 adults sea bass, captured in 8 sites of the 3 French coastlines of the North East Atlantic, will be equipped with recording tags in 2014 and 2015 via at sea operations performed by professional vessels, chartered by the CNPMEM.

  • « Data of the professional fishery »: Acquire some of the lacking knowledge to offer pertinent management proposals and contribute to the removal of the sea bass from the « DLS » list of species at European level.
  • « Nursery »: Obtain abundance indices of juveniles to support the stock evaluation modelling. These abundance indices are primordial because they predict the importance of recruitments to come, meaning the number of young individuals which will join the exploitable stocks in the future. Started in 2014 and currently going on in two pilot areas (the Bay of Brest and the Bay of Douarnenez), this action serves the purpose of creating, before its end in 2016, a protocol that would enable the productions of yearly abundancy indicators of sea bass juveniles. In 2017, the identification of the main nurseries of that species located in the North East Atlantic coastline might be considered, and the sustainable tracking of one or two major nurseries per coastline could be started in order to complete the ICES stock models.
  • « Recreational fishery » : First studies conducted in France on recreational fishery (and notably since 2000) displayed the importance of that activity, for its number of practitioners (about 1.3 million fishermen) and for its number of catches achieved, notably of sea bass, principal target of the French recreational fishermen (about 3.000 tons per year). This action is conducted in the context of the « Data collection Framework » (DCF) of the European Union which now forces the Member States in a tracking of the recreational fishery activity.
  • « Professional knowledge »: Professional fishermen have a profound knowledge of the environment and species they exploit, and this knowledge deserves to be collected and used by scientists. In fact, they often know where the spawning sites, the nurseries or the fattening areas are located along shores they are familiar with. Sometimes they also know the great migratory routes of some species. And sometimes they know where fishes are, depending on the period. This knowledge, individual and scattered, has not been collected and exploited by scientists a lot until now. The purpose of this action « Professional knowledge » led by the CNPMEM was to collect, via a questionnaire, the empiric knowledge acquired on sea bass (at different life stages) by a sample of professional fishermen practicing the various professions which capture this species along the Atlantic/Channel/North Sea coastlines.

The first three actions out of these five compose the project Bargip whose purpose is to produce new data and knowledge required for the implementation of an Integrated Management of sea bass populations in the North East Atlantic.

Ifremer acts as the contracting authority in this project, supported by the CNPMEM. This project is financed by the DPMA of the MEDDE, France Filière Pêche and Ifremer.

Read more on: BARGIP dedicated website
Mis à jour le 27 March 2015