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Bib, or pouting

When is best to eat?



Bib or pout are small fish in the same family as cod with a distinctive chin barbel and a deep body, they are coppery coloured and often have distinctive vertical banding. Pout are tasty and versatile and are best when very fresh. Bib or pouting only live for about 4 years and are common in European waters as far south as  Spain and although not commercially targeted are often landed as a saleable by catch. 

Sustainability Overview

Pouting (or Bib) is a short-lived species common in British inshore waters. It is not commercially fished and therefore not assessed and no information available on its stock status. However its biology suggests that it is moderately resilient to fishing. When buying choose mature (over 21 cm) locally caught fish. Avoid eating fresh (not previously frozen) fish caught during their spawning season (March to April). As an under-utilised species it is ranked by Cefas as one of the most tolerant of over-fishing and therefore one of the better ones for consumers to eat.

Sustainability ratings for this species

Beam Trawling

Cornish waters

Beam trawls are nets attached to a steel beam that holds the net open. The belly of the net is made of chains and the upper surface of the net is mesh. Beam trawlers pull two nets along the seabed simultaneously.

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Gill Netting

Gill nets are lightweight nets made of nylon (monofilament) fishing line that are anchored to the seabed and are used to catch fish by entangling the gills.

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Demersal Trawl

Cornish waters

Demersal trawls are large nets that are pulled through the water with the bottom edge of the net touching the seabed. At each edge the net is pulled open by metal ‘trawl doors’. Sometimes referred to as Otter trawling.

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How we rate fish

Cornwall Good Seafood Guide rates fish on sustainability using a scale of 1 to 5.

1, 2 and 3 are recommended, Fish to avoid are rated 5.

We use the system devised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) so our scores are comparable with the scores produced by MCS for the UK and fisheries from all around the world. For more information on scoring click here.


A member of the cod family, bib are a common fish in inshore waters, particularly in rocky areas where large schools form around wrecks and reefs. Moves inshore to depths of 50m or less to spawn in March to April. It matures at 1-2 years old at lengths of 21-25cm. Can attain a size in excess of 40cm, but more usually between about 20-32cm. The maximum reported age reached is 4 years. Vulnerability to fishing is moderate 44% (Fishbase).

Stock Info

Pouting is a bycatch species that is more commonly being landed for human consumption. Because pouting is not commercially fished (targeted), the status of the stocks is not assessed, therefore, no information is available. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the stocks are in abundance, however the species does suffer from discarding. Formal stock assessment is essential to ascertain whether this fishery is sustainable. Pouting is however considered an under-utilised species. Under-utilised species are ones that fishermen don't catch their full quota of; or they catch them but then discard the fish because no one wants to buy them. CEFAS have compiled a list of these species using quota and discard information, expert advice and local knowledge and chose around 50 under-utilised species to study. To determine their sensitivity to over-fishing CEFAS has developed a system, the Relative Life History Sensitivity Analysis, to study the risk. It uses biological information like growth and breeding strategies to see how increased fishing pressure might damage each species. They then ranked the species by how tolerant they are to being over-fished. For a full list of the species that are most under-utilised and most tolerant of over-fishing and therefore the best ones for consumers to consider choosing. 


Pouting is mostly taken as bycatch in mixed trawl fisheries and is considered an under-utilised species. As such there are currently few management measures for the species. 

Capture Info

Pouting (or Bib) is taken as by-catch in trawl fisheries for other whitefish. Because it is not commercially fished there is no minimum landing size specified for it in EU waters. Depending on the nature of the seabed, there is potential for damage by the heavy fishing gear used in trawling for bottom-dwelling species. Trawling is also associated with discarding of unwanted fish, i.e. undersized and/or non-quota and/or over-quota species.


Seafish Responsible sourcing guide pouting 2014
Identifying underutilised species - Tom Catchpole, Cefas, January 2011 (This project was funded by Defra)

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