European seabass

Dicentrachus labrax

Dicentrachus labrax (European seabass)
Distribution
Distribution map: Dicentrachus labrax (European seabass)

least concern



Information


Authors: João L. Saraiva, Jenny Volstorf
Version: C | 2.1 (2022-11-02)


Reviewer: Pablo Arechavala-Lopez
Editors: Jenny Volstorf, Billo Heinzpeter Studer

First published: 2017-03-09
Version information:
  • Appearance: C
  • Major version 2 published: 2022-10-05
  • Revision 1 published: 2022-11-02

Cite as: »Saraiva, João L., and Jenny Volstorf. 2022. Dicentrachus labrax (Farm: Short Profile). In: fair-fish database, ed. fair-fish. World Wide Web electronic publication. First published 2017-03-09. Version C | 2.1. https://fair-fish-database.net.«





FishEthoScore/farm

Dicentrachus labrax
LiPoCe
Criteria
Home range
Depth range
Migration
Reproduction
Aggregation
Aggression
Substrate
Stress
Malformations
Slaughter


Condensed assessment of the species' likelihood and potential for good fish welfare in aquaculture, based on ethological findings for 10 crucial criteria.

Li = Likelihood that the individuals of the species experience good welfare under minimal farming conditions
Po = Potential of the individuals of the species to experience good welfare under high-standard farming conditions
Ce = Certainty of our findings in Likelihood and Potential

FishEthoScore = Sum of criteria scoring "High" (max. 10)

Legend

High
Medium
Low
Unclear
No findings



General remarks

Dicentrarchus labrax, a moronid from the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, is a valuable species for aquaculture, dominating the Mediterranean marine finish culture together with Sparus aurata. Many aspects of its biology, however, are not taken into consideration in farming conditions, especially in intensive culture which represents the most frequent farming system using sea cages. Raceways, tanks, and ponds are also used, but to a lesser degree. Despite recent advances in nutrition, there is still dependence on unsustainable feed sources such as fish meal and oil. Many behavioural aspects are yet to be fully understood, namely on reproduction, where courtship processes are unknown and spawning has largely to be artificially induced. Spatial needs are also an issue, since farming conditions are generally too restrictive of natural movement. This species is known to be highly sensitive to stressors at all life stages, although good practices can greatly reduce stress effects. A proper culture system, providing shelter and substrate, reducing densities based on natural numbers and increasing space are measures that should contribute to better farming practices.




1  Home range

Many species traverse in a limited horizontal space (even if just for a certain period of time per year); the home range may be described as a species' understanding of its environment (i.e., its cognitive map) for the most important resources it needs access to. What is the probability of providing the species' whole home range in captivity?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions, as the range in captivity at least overlaps with the range in the wild. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs: does not apply.

LARVAE and FRY:

  • WILDPLANKTONIC 1 2 3.
  • FARM: tanks: 1-10 m2 4, 2-15 m3, generally 4-6 m3 5, weaning tanks: 8-25 m3 6, 15-25 m3, sometimes 130 m3 5; ponds: 100s-1,000s m3 7.
  • LAB: does not apply.

JUVENILES:

  • WILD: 1-160 km 8 3 9 10 11, site fidelity at an ecosystem scale 11 10.
  • FARM: sea seacages (net pens): 4-10+ m2 12, 12.0-12.7 m ∅ 13 14, 16 m ∅ 15, 20 m ∅ 16, 30-50 m ∅ 5, cylindrical with 12-25 m ∅ 17; raceways: 280 m2 18; earthen ponds: 1,000-10,000 m2 4; seawater ponds: 4,800 m2 19.
  • LAB: does not apply.

ADULTS:

  • WILD JUVENILES.
  • FARM JUVENILES.
  • LAB: does not apply.

SPAWNERS:

  • WILD: swim 10s-100s of km along the shore 8 20 21.
  • FARM: long-term holding in floating cages or large ponds 6; spawning tanks: usually ca 4 m ∅ 22, 20 m3 5.
  • LAB: does not apply.



2  Depth range

Given the availability of resources (food, shelter) or the need to avoid predators, species spend their time within a certain depth range. What is the probability of providing the species' whole depth range in captivity?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions, as the range in captivity at least overlaps with the range in the wild. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: no data found yet.
  • LAB: does not apply.

LARVAE and FRY:

  • WILD: usually 0-15 m 2 23.
  • FARM: tanks: 1-2 m 22 24, 1.5-2.5 m 7; ponds: 2-5 m 7.
  • LAB: does not apply.

JUVENILES:

  • WILD: usually 1-3 m 25 26 27, up to 60 m 9.
  • FARM: sea cages: 13-30 m 28, 8 m 13, 10 m submerged at 5 m below surface 15, 16 m at 40 m water depth 16, at 30 m water depth 5, 10 m at 18-22 m water depth 14, cylindrical with 11-14 m 17; raceways: 1 m 18; tanks: 1.8 m 29; earthen ponds: 1.5-2 m 24; seawater ponds: 1.0-1.3 m 19.
  • LAB: does not apply.

ADULTS:

  • WILD JUVENILES.
  • FARM JUVENILES.
  • LAB: does not apply.

SPAWNERS:

  • WILD: ≤60 m 9.
  • FARM: spawning tanks: 1.5 m 22.
  • LAB: does not apply.



3  Migration

Some species undergo seasonal changes of environments for different purposes (feeding, spawning, etc.) and with them, environmental parameters (photoperiod, temperature, salinity) may change, too. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the migrating or habitat-changing behaviour of the species?

It is low for minimal and high-standard farming conditions, as the species undertakes extensive migrations, and we cannot be sure that providing each age class with their respective environmental conditions will satisfy their urge to migrate or whether they need to experience the transition. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

AMPHIDROMOUS 30 31 32 26 33. EURYHALINE 34 35 36 33.

Eggs: does not apply.

LARVAE and FRY:

  • WILD: LARVAE develop offshore, FRY migrate inshore 30 31 32 33 .
  • FARM: tanks: initially 8 h PHOTOPERIOD at 20 lux, then increased to 16 h at 500 lux, later decreased to 14 h 6, 15-22 °C 6 37, 26‰ 5; ponds: water from sea, lagoon or littoral well 7.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

JUVENILES:

  • WILD: remain mostly inshore, in estuaries, lagoons or boardering rivers 38 39 40 33. Migrate offshore in winter 34 8 26 33.
  • FARM: cages anchored close to shore or in open sea 12: 13-28+ °C 15 13 14; raceways: seawater 18; tanks: 13-18 °C 12, 20-24 °C 37, brackish (30‰) or seawater (38‰) 12; seawater ponds: 18-28 °C 14. For details of holding systems  S1 and S2.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

ADULTS:

  • WILD: coastal waters, except for offshore spawning migration 20 32
  • FARM JUVENILES.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

SPAWNERS:

  • WILD: spawn offshore 20 41 21.
  • FARM: tanks: 14-15 °C 5. For details of holding systems  S1 and S2.
  • LAB: no data found yet.



4  Reproduction

A species reproduces at a certain age, season, and sex ratio and possibly involving courtship rituals. What is the probability of the species reproducing naturally in captivity without manipulation?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is high for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs: does not apply.

LARVAE and FRY: does not apply.

JUVENILES: does not apply.

ADULTS: does not apply.

SPAWNERS:

  • WILD: females mature at 5+ years, males at 7 years 34, spawn in winter-spring depending on latitude 34 38 30 41 33 42. Females probably spawn in batches 34
  • FARM: females 5-8 years, males 2-4 years 6, sex ratio 2-3:1-2 male:female 43 12IND from the wild may be added to the captive breeder population 5. PHOTOPERIOD and temperature manipulation to achieve off-season spawning that goes beyond shifting of natural cycle 6. Hormonal manipulation to induce spawning in females 44 6 and milt production in males 45. Males and females may occasionally be stripped 12. Reproductive dysfunction is common 46 44 47 48, but natural spawning is possible 49 24. Females produced eggs of better quality when acclimatised for 3 years to a large tank and left undisturbed during the spawning season 44.
  • LAB: no data found yet.



5  Aggregation

Species differ in the way they co-exist with conspecifics or other species from being solitary to aggregating unstructured, casually roaming in shoals or closely coordinating in schools of varying densities. What is the probability of providing farming conditions that are compatible with the aggregation behaviour of the species?

It is low for minimal farming conditions, as – even in the absence of densities in the wild – we may conclude from laboratory studies that densities in raceways and tanks are potentially stress inducing. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions, as lower stress at stocking densities in cages and ponds need to be verified for the farming context. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs: does not apply.

LARVAE and FRY:

  • WILD: 1 LARVAE/m2 offshore 2, but FRY may congregate naturally in large numbers 23 34 50 .
  • FARM: LARVAE: tanks: usually 100-120 IND/L, sometimes 150 IND/L 5 or 200 IND/L 7, 2-8 IND/L in mesocosms (between extensive and intensive systems) 7; ponds: 0.1-1 IND/L 7. FRY: weaning tanks: 15,000-20,000 IND/m3 initially, finally 10-15 kg/m3 6, 20 IND/L 5.
  • LAB: at 35-57 days, higher cannibalism at 20 IND/L than 5 IND/L 51. At 60 days, higher growth, survival, percentage of swim bladder inflation and lower percentage skeletal deformities (10% versus 20%) at 50 IND/L than 75-125 IND/L 52.

JUVENILES:

  • WILD: shoal 34, but more often school 26 53.
  • FARM: sea cages: 16 kg/m3 (ca 36 IND/m3 at harvest weight of 450 g) 54, 37.5-41.7 IND/m3 15, 11-14 kg/m3 13, 6-12 kg/m3 5; raceways: 14 kg/m3 (final 40 kg/m3) 18; tanks: 20-35 kg/m3 (ca 45-78 IND/m3 at harvest weight of 450 g) 12; earthen ponds: 2-4 kg/m3 5; seawater ponds: 0.9 IND/m3 19. Higher frequency of fin ray deformity and necrosis in longer production cycle 55.
  • LAB: stressed by 15-120 kg/m3 56 55 57, but decreases with acclimatisation 58 and feeding to satiation 57.

ADULTS:

  • WILD: shoal 34 25, more often solitary 34, school 26.
  • FARM: earthen ponds: 1 kg/m3 (ca 1 IND/m3), plastic or concrete tanks: ≤5 kg/m3 (ca 5 IND/m3) 22.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

SPAWNERS:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: 8-12 kg/m3 5.
  • LAB: no data found yet.



6  Aggression

There is a range of adverse reactions in species, spanning from being relatively indifferent towards others to defending valuable resources (e.g., food, territory, mates) to actively attacking opponents. What is the probability of the species being non-aggressive and non-territorial in captivity?

There are unclear findings for minimal farming conditions. It is high for high-standard farming conditions. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs: does not apply.

LARVAE and FRY:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: no aggression reported 24.
  • LAB: no cannibalism at 1-30 days even under high density (200 IND/L) 51. Until 60 days, no cannibalism at 125 IND/L 52. Cannibalism at 35-50 days, after weaning from live food to microdiets at days 16-20 59. For cannibalism and aggregation  S3.

JUVENILES:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: no data found yet.
  • LAB: no aggression reported 60 58, even under 100 kg/m3 58, occasional chasing 57 61. No injuries 62.

ADULTS:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: no data found yet.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

SPAWNERS:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: no aggression reported 24.
  • LAB: no data found yet.



7  Substrate

Depending on where in the water column the species lives, it differs in interacting with or relying on various substrates for feeding or covering purposes (e.g., plants, rocks and stones, sand and mud). What is the probability of providing the species' substrate and shelter needs in captivity?

It is low for minimal farming conditions, as cages without substrate prevail. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions, as innovations for enrichment need to be verified for the farming context. Our conclusion is based on a medium amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs:

  • WILDPELAGIC 63 31 23 64.
  • FARM: barren tanks 22.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

LARVAE and FRY:

  • WILD Eggs.
  • FARM Eggs.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

JUVENILES:

  • WILD: use substrate for feeding 23.
  • FARM: sea cages 12 and raceways 18 usually without substrate, but substrate is present in earthen ponds 4.
  • LAB: actively seek shelter, especially shy IND 65 66 67. More homogenous group behaviour towards stressful situation in environmentally enriched (suspended plant-fibre ropes) compared to barren tanks, indicating more stable social structure and thus higher welfare 68.

ADULTS:

  • WILD JUVENILES.
  • FARM JUVENILES.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

SPAWNERS:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: no data found yet.
  • LAB: no data found yet.



8  Stress

Farming involves subjecting the species to diverse procedures (e.g., handling, air exposure, short-term confinement, short-term crowding, transport), sudden parameter changes or repeated disturbances (e.g., husbandry, size-grading). What is the probability of the species not being stressed?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions, as some stressors result from conditions that may be changed. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: no data found yet.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

LARVAE and FRY:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: stressed by high currents 49.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

JUVENILES:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: increased stress in cages at sea surface compared to submerged cages 15. For stress and stocking density  S3. Monitoring by horizontal hydroacoustics outside the cage was highly precise and is less labour intensive than vertical hydroacoustics and potentially less stressful than vertical hydroacoustics and capture-dependent sampling, as it is non-intrusive 17.
  • LAB: stressed by confinement 69 57, switching temperature between 17 and 23 °C on alternate days 70, crowding 56 71, chasing and air exposure 71. Much more stressed by chasing, air exposure, and confinement (mimicking transport; higher at 50 kg/m3 than 20 kg/m3) than other Mediterranean farmed species 72. Water cortisol levels can be used as a non-invasive method to measure stress 72.

ADULTS:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM JUVENILES.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

SPAWNERS:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: for stress and reproduction  S4.
  • LAB: no data found yet.



9  Malformations

Deformities that – in contrast to diseases – are commonly irreversible may indicate sub-optimal rearing conditions (e.g., mechanical stress during hatching and rearing, environmental factors unless mentioned in crit. 3, aquatic pollutants, nutritional deficiencies) or a general incompatibility of the species with being farmed. What is the probability of the species being malformed rarely?

It is low for minimal farming conditions, as malformation rates exceed 10%. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions, as some malformations result from conditions that may be changed. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: no data found yet.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

LARVAE and FRY:

  • WILD: no fin anomalies 73.
  • FARM: spinal malformations in 0-5%, mouth deformations in 0-40%, operculum abnormalities in 0-90% 74, fin anomalies in 10-22% 73.
  • LAB: lordosis in 20-30%, which coincided with non-inflated swim bladder 75; under forced swimming, lordosis in 90% 75. Kyphosis, lordosis, fused vertebrae, vertebral compression, deformed arches, head deformations in 23.5%, of which major deformities in 4% 59; higher frequencies when weaned from live food to microdiets at 16-20 days 59. For malformations and aggregation  S3.

JUVENILES:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: kyphosis in 25-53% 76, abnormalities in 30.2% overall of which operculum abnormalities in 15%, head abnormalities in 6.1%, spinal column deformations in 3.9% 77
  • LAB: no data found yet.

ADULTS:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM JUVENILES.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

SPAWNERS:

  • WILD: no data found yet.
  • FARM: no data found yet.
  • LAB: no data found yet.



10  Slaughter

The cornerstone for a humane treatment is that slaughter a) immediately follows stunning (i.e., while the individual is unconscious), b) happens according to a clear and reproducible set of instructions verified under farming conditions, and c) avoids pain, suffering, and distress. What is the probability of the species being slaughtered according to a humane slaughter protocol?

It is low for minimal farming conditions. It is medium for high-standard farming conditions, as innovations for stunning and slaughter need to be verified for the farming context. Our conclusion is based on a high amount of evidence.

Likelihood
Potential
Certainty

Eggs: does not apply.

LARVAE and FRY: does not apply.

JUVENILES:

  • WILD: does not apply.
  • FARM: common slaughter method: chilled water or ice-water slurry 12 78 79, so probably hypothermia. High-standard slaughter method: electrical stunning followed by chilling in ice water 78 or ice slurry including nanoencapsulated clove oil 80 probably induce unconsciousness fast and prevent recovery. Further research needed to confirm for farming conditions.
  • LAB: electrical stunning followed by chilling in ice water was fastest and most effective in a test situation simulating a farm context 81. Combination of clove oil and ice-water slurry was less stressful than other methods while maintaining flesh quality, but clove oil has not been approved for use on food FISHES 82. Electrical stunning was fastest, but resulted in lower quality than combination of gas mix and ice water 83.

ADULTS:

  • WILD: does not apply.
  • FARM JUVENILES.
  • LAB: no data found yet.

SPAWNERS:

  • WILD: does not apply.
  • FARM JUVENILES.
  • LAB: no data found yet.



Side note: Domestication

Teletchea and Fontaine introduced 5 domestication levels illustrating how far species are from having their life cycle closed in captivity without wild input, how long they have been reared in captivity, and whether breeding programmes are in place. What is the species’ domestication level?

DOMESTICATION LEVEL 5 84, fully domesticated.




Side note: Forage fish in the feed

450-1,000 milliard wild-caught fishes end up being processed into fish meal and fish oil each year which contributes to overfishing and represents enormous suffering. There is a broad range of feeding types within species reared in captivity. To what degree may fish meal and fish oil based on forage fish be replaced by non-forage fishery components (e.g., poultry blood meal) or sustainable sources (e.g., soybean cake)?

All age classes:

  • WILD: carnivorous 23.
  • FARMFRY: fish meal may be partly* replaced by sustainable sources 85. JUVENILES: fish meal may be completely* replaced by sustainable sources 86.
  • LAB: JUVENILES: fish meal may be partly* 87 88 to mostly* 89 and fish oil may be mostly* replaced by sustainable sources 90.

*partly = <51% – mostly = 51-99% – completely = 100%




Glossary


ADULTS = mature individuals, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
AMPHIDROMOUS = migrating between fresh water and sea independent of spawning
DOMESTICATION LEVEL 5 = selective breeding programmes are used focusing on specific goals 84
EURYHALINE = tolerant of a wide range of salinities
FARM = setting in farming environment or under conditions simulating farming environment in terms of size of facility or number of individuals
FISHES = Using "fishes" instead of "fish" for more than one individual - whether of the same species or not - is inspired by Jonathan Balcombe who proposed this usage in his book "What a fish knows". By referring to a group as "fishes", we acknowledge the individuals with their personalities and needs instead of an anonymous mass of "fish".
FRY = larvae from external feeding on, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
IND = individuals
JUVENILES = fully developed but immature individuals, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
LAB = setting in laboratory environment
LARVAE = hatching to mouth opening, for details Findings 10.1 Ontogenetic development
PELAGIC = living independent of bottom and shore of a body of water
PHOTOPERIOD = duration of daylight
PLANKTONIC = horizontal movement limited to hydrodynamic displacement
SPAWNERS = adults during the spawning season; in farms: adults that are kept as broodstock
WILD = setting in the wild



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