It won’t surprise you to know that at Spiny we are wild about bass, and, happily, it seems to be one of your firm favorites too, not only in the restaurant but with Barney in the Fishmongers.
Sea bass is probably one of the better-known fish among the less fishy customers here and for good reason, as you know it is a delicate fish which although delightful when cooked by our chefs in the restaurant, it is robust, and with a little care, it can also be very special when cooked for your guests at home, and can easily make you look like one of our chefs! You may already have noticed that for certain months in the year, the government has a ban in place to stop these fine fish from disappearing from our seas altogether.
If like us you wanted to learn a bit more about why this happens, when it happens and why we shouldn’t just buy them when we want them from a farm, we spoke to some of our fisherman friends down in Brixham to help us put together this post.
So why is there a ban? The ban on fishing sea bass was put in place by the EU back in 2016, it was done to protect this beloved fish from overfishing. As numbers began to dwindle during the last decade action needed to be taken, and even after Brexit, Britain rightfully chose to keep with the ban on bass fishing for three months of the year.
The ban runs from December until March and means that any that are caught must be released, this means the fish get a head start on breeding to keep up numbers to a sustainable amount. Even during the months where fishing is allowed again each person can only catch two bass to keep and they must meet a minimum size of 42cm.
Sometimes we are asked why we bother with the wild bass when you can get it farmed 365 days of the year, perfect for convenience obviously. Farming allows the fish growth to be more controlled, and it to be available year-round, but all choices have their own downsides. All farms by their nature have to fight against keeping the purity of the water with so many fish in a more confined space, and it brings higher risks of pesticides, parasites, and a range of nasties.
So, like our fishermen, we believe that wild is always better, with the added advantage that the fish have had a happier natural life before reaching your plate. Wild now also means sustainable as it is monitored throughout the year, so while we still join the hunt for the Wild Sea Bass, we are getting the best quality not just for us but for you our loyal enthusiasts too!
So, enjoy, and for the rest of this year weather allowing, just ask Barney for them in the Fishmonger, or in your favorite dishes in the restaurant!