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Fears for bass recovery result in zero catch advice for 2017



The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says the latest advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea that no seabass should be caught in 2017 from the stock in UK’s waters reveals the desperate situation this restaurant and recreational angling favourite is in.

The advice confirms fears that the population – which is mainly shared with France and the Netherlands – has now slipped to dangerously low levels and is at risk of not recovering properly.

This news comes on the back of emergency measures imposed by the EU in 2015 and then further restrictions to the fishery from January this year including a complete ban in February and March to protect spawning aggregations of seabass (except a 1% bycatch allowance for trawl fisheries).

Whilst it’s clear these measures are achieving reductions in catches and helping to protect juveniles, they don’t go anywhere near enough to prevent further declines in the population which is now at a critically low level.

Samuel Stone, MCS Fisheries and Aquaculture Programme Co-ordinator, says the writing has been on the wall for the bass fishery for a number of years: “Despite that, the fishing industry has fought hard to play down the seriousness of the situation. In 2014, scientists recommended an 80% reduction in bass catches, and whilst large reductions have been made, the resulting reductions have been more like 50%, and even then there is huge uncertainty in the actual catch figures for bass as it’s known to be illegally caught and sold in the UK and there is a large recreational catch.”

At the end of 2015, the European Commission had proposed a complete moratorium for seabass for the first six months of 2016 which MCS was supportive of, but what was finally agreed by the Council of Ministers was significantly watered down and included many exemptions to allow for the ongoing fishing of bass by several fleets.

Scientists suggest that even if a zero catch was implemented next year – something that will be impossible to achieve – the population would likely still be near or below critical levels in 2018. MCS strongly supports the scientific advice for a zero catch next year, but says that in order to get anywhere near this, additional selectivity and avoidance measures and much better monitoring will be needed.

MCS already has a red rating for this seabass fishery in its Good Fish Guide advising all consumers and businesses to avoid buying bass until the fishery has recovered to a healthier state.

“With this new advice, the red rating will be maintained for the foreseeable future and those wishing to buy bass should take extra care to find out where their fish is from. Most bass in the UK are actually farmed and represent a better choice at the moment. There are one or two other stocks from further afield, but not enough is known about these populations to know if they represent a sustainable choice,” says Samuel Stone.

To find out more about the Marine Conservation Society, visit

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Jo Cutler, a contestant in the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition (Watch Video)



In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-large, chats to Jo Cutler, a contestant in the See You at the Sea Festival Film Competition. The See you at the Sea Festival was an online film festival created by young people, for young people.

Jo’s film – An Evolving Story – can be seen here:

Fifth in a series of six videos about the competition. Watch the first video HERE with Jenn Sandiford – Youth Engagement Officer with the Your Shore Beach Rangers Project and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust – to find out more about the Competition. Each day this week will be sharing one video in which Jeff talks with the young contestants about their films and what inspired them.

For more information please visit:

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Miscellaneous Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Stephan Whelan



Next in a new series of podcasts shared by our friends Gemma and Ian aka The BiG Scuba Podcast…

Ian and Gemma chat to Stephan Whelan.  Stephan is the Founder and Publisher of His passion for the underwater world started at 8 years-old with a try-dive in a hotel pool on holiday that soon formulated into a lifelong love affair with the oceans and led him to become one of the leading figures in the diving media industry.

Stephan got bitten by the diving bug early in life. His first scuba experience was a try-dive when he was eight years old on a family holiday in Europe, and from that moment, he was addicted. He learned to dive properly with BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club) as soon as he could at school and then did his BSAC Assistant Instructor when he turned 16. By the time he was heading to university in 1996, he was hooked on teaching and diving as much as he could.

By the time he started studying at university, he decided to have a go at flexing his web-design skills by publishing some of the stories he had built up about various ‘challenging’ students and dives he had encountered, and so (as it was known then) was created. He published numerous personal stories until 1998 when other writers began enquiring about contributing to the site with their tales, and it was at this moment he decided to make it more like a magazine format and began asking for volunteer helpers. He got a couple of editors on board, and plenty of writers began contributing. (or DB as it’s become to be known) is now one of the most-popular diving websites in the world and has grown to publish over 9,000 articles covering all sorts of topics like Freediving, Scuba Diving, Ocean Advocacy, and Diving Travel all the while keeping over half-a-million passionate divers from the diving community connected every month through the forums, large social media following, mobile app, and recently launched podcast.








Find more podcast episodes and information at and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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