European Seabass are a feisty fish prized by anglers for their fighting nature. They live in near-shore areas including estuaries, lagoons and rivers, from West Africa and the Mediterranean to the North Atlantic. The seabass was one of the first fish species to be farmed in Europe beginning in France in the 1970s.
European Seabass are silvery grey to bluish on the back, silvery on the sides and white on the belly. They have an elongated body and can grow up to one metre (3.3 feet) long and weigh up to 15 kg (33 lbs.). The fish is highly prized by restaurants for its delicate sweet flavour.
This species is very slow growing and takes many years to reach full maturity: a 20-year-old bass, for example, typically weighs around 5 kg (11 lbs.). The females are sexually mature at five to eight years and males at two to four years. At this point, these fish will begin spawning, laying their small pelagic eggs near river mouths and estuaries or in saltier tidal areas. There is only one spawning season per year, which generally takes place in winter in the Mediterranean populations and up to June in Atlantic populations. A hardy fish, seabass aren’t particularly sensitive to low temperatures and so some fish may over-winter in coastal lagoons instead of returning to warmer waters in the open ocean. Seabass are predators feeding on small fish, prawns and crabs.
This fishery uses curtains of netting suspended by a system of floats and weights along the seashore to catch fish. The fine netting is almost invisible so fish unwittingly get caught in the mesh.