Illustration of Sea bass, European

Sea bass, European

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Harvest Method

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

European seabass, branzino

Dicentrarchus labrax

Method

Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS)

Location

Overall Rating

7.0 / 10

Summary

Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) are similar for various farmed species. This recommendation applies to all species grown in RAS except for those where a separate species-specific RAS recommendation is available. Closed containment has recently emerged in the farming industry as an alternative to net pens in order to reduce the environmental impacts of an aquaculture system that is open to the environment.

Source of stock is domesticated broodstock for the vast majority of RAS farms. Therefore wild populations are not depleted to source the aquaculture operations. Impacts of feed use vary amongst RAS farms and the species being cultured.

The contained nature of RAS allows for close control and prevention of potential disease or parasite outbreaks. Risk of pathogens and their transfer to wild populations is low. Predator and wildlife mortalities are virtually eliminated when RAS systems are located indoors, and risk of escapes is low as the systems are not in direct contact with natural water bodies.

About 90-99% of water is typically recirculated after filtration and waste treatment. As such, little to no effluent is discharged to the environment and there is the opportunity to treat waste before discharge. The closed design of RAS and the application of biosecurity protocols reduce the risk of disease and parasites, and consequently require low use of chemicals. When chemicals are used, they cannot flow into the environment directly, and have the opportunity to be treated and sterilized before discharge. RAS farms are typically not built in sensitive habitats, and the closed system of the farms minimizes ecosystem impacts.

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

Variety

Dutch rod and line fishery for sea bass

Dicentrarchus labrax

Method

Wild

Handline

Location

Southern North Sea

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

 

 

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Variety

European seabass, branzino

Dicentrarchus labrax

Method

Farmed

Open net pen

Location

Mediterranean Sea

Overall Rating

4.6 / 10

Summary

Branzino are carnivorous fish native to the Mediterranean Sea. ‘Branzino’ includes two species: the European sea bass and gilthead sea bream. These fish are often held and raised together at the same farming operations. Production is substantial in the Mediterranean, as branzino operations are responsible for the largest volume of aquaculture production in the region.

Due to their direct contact with the marine environment, marine net-pens pose an inherent risk to the surrounding habitat and fish populations. It is not uncommon for framed branzino to escape into the surrounding environment, however these escapements have yet to negatively affect the wild population through genetic mixing or disease. Fish take 14-16 months to grow to a marketable weight of approximately 0.5 kg. Over the course of their life, some branzino are treated with antibiotics including flumequin, which is not legal for aquaculture-use in all countries and may pose a risk to human health.

Overall data availability for these fisheries is fair, with the majority of information discussing impacts to habitat and stock source, and diseases. Regulations pertaining to these aquaculture operations exist both regionally (i.e., Europe Union countries) and also by country. At both levels, policies focus on preventing negative impacts from waste and discharge on the surrounding environment. Although the majority of feed is sourced from sustainable fisheries or processed byproducts, by using smaller fish to farm branzino, there is still a net loss in fish production. With regard to farm location, there is no evidence to suggest that any highly-vulnerable or endangered wild populations are impacted by branzino operations.

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