RASS Records

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Content Last Updated
07 January 2016

Black bream (Spondyliosoma cantharus) is a widely distributed roundfish that inhabits the waters of the Northeastern Atlantic shelf and Mediterranean. This species is found over seagrass beds and rocky/sandy substrates up to a maximum depth of 300 m. Juveniles are found in shallower water, typically at depths of up to 50 m, and remain inshore until about two to three years of age.


This species is slow growing, long-lived and feeds on algae, seaweed and small invertebrates. Between March and May, females lay their eggs in a nest on sandy and gravel substrates which the male builds and protects (Pawson, 1995). Black bream is a hermaphrodite and undergoes a change in sex from male to female during its life cycle. They mature initially as a male at approximately 20 cm to 30 cm in length and then undergo a sex change to become female at a length of 40 cm or above (Pawson 1995).


The life history characteristics of black bream make this species particularly vulnerable to local over-exploitation given that males and females exhibit a high degree of habitat specificity during the spawning season. Black bream are targeted by fisheries when they form aggregations around nesting areas. Although fishery regulations for black bream are limited, the currently developing network of marine protected areas offer protection. Other than the use of marine protected areas, there is no management of this stock and continued monitoring of its population status and harvest levels is recommended.



Pawson, M.G. 1995. Biogeographical identification of English Channel fish and shellfish stocks. Fisheries Research Technical Report No. 99. MAFF Directorate of Fisheries Research, Lowestoft.

The status of the black bream stock in Division VIId,e (English Channel) has been scored a very high risk. This is because the species has a relatively high vulnerability score of 52/100 and temporal trends in spawning stock biomass are unknown in recent years.

The management of black bream in Division VIId e (English Channel) has been scored a high risk. This is because management decisions are not informed by an annual stock assessment, minimal data has been collected for this stock and there are limited management measures in place to restrict harvesting.

The bycatch in the demersal pair trawl fishery for black bream has been scored a moderate risk. This is because in the although the demersal pair trawl fleet has the potential to take relatively high quantities of bycatch there is evidence that mitigation measures in this fishery are adequate to minimise discards. There is potential for bycatches of vulnerable species such as marine mammals but this has not ben reported in this fishery

The habitat impact of the demersal pair trawl fishery for black bream in the English Channel has been scored a high risk. This is because demersal  trawls interact with seabed habitats resulting in abrasion and penetration from ground gear, sweeps and bridles. Some spatial management in place to restrict the footprint of this gear on the seabed.

TypeCurrent Risk StatusOutlookReason

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