Wild sea bass fishing in southern Bay of Biscay is killing dolphins and porpoises

Pair trawling from Bridlington

When ship owners use static nets and pair trawling – which entails dragging a giant net – in the Bay of Biscay they can sometimes also catch porpoises and dolphins because these mammals are natural predators of sea bass which makes them vulnerable to being caught in fishing nets. When caught they often die. Research has highlighted the risk to dolphins. In July 2020, the European Commission took legal action against France and Spain for failing to comply with their legal duties and they want these countries to take action against the owners of the vessels involved.

Pair trawling from Bridlington

Pair trawling from Bridlington. This boat has nothing to do with the story. The picture is here to illustrate the page. Photo: Fishing News.

Nowadays, it pays to research as to whether the fish that you are eating is harvested sustainably and ethically. You can find out how the various fish species are caught or farmed in the Good Fish Guide. The manager of the guide, Charlotte Coombes, reminded us that it is important to “consider the wider environmental impacts of the seafood you choose”.

They argue that Dover sole can be a more sustainable choice than other types of seabass. There are rising stocks in the English Channel and the Irish Sea which has allowed the authorities to grant it a green rating.

North Sea herring has moved from green to amber because of a sharp drop in population size in 2016. The Marine Conservation Society has red-rated seabass, as a fish to avoid, in the online Good Fish Guide.

Comment: a little while ago I wrote about the pain suffered by fish when caught by fishermen. This aspect of commercial and amateur fishing is almost completely ignored. Studies have confirmed that fish feel pain when caught by line and rod and when suffocated by commercial fishermen. It is time for humankind to take a completely different approach to fishing. It needs a root and branch, wholesale change in attitude of the kind recommended by Sir David Attenborough.