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gilt head bream

When is best to eat?

gilthead bream


With a metallic sheen and a chunky profile the gilthead bream is an unmistakable fish that is caught by anglers and netters in Cornwall during the summer months and is highly prized.

Sustainability Overview

Gilthead bream (also known as gilthead seabream) are a southern species at the far north of their range in the English channel. Stocks of Gilthead seabream are under studied but there is currently no evidence to suggest that they are being over fished. They are rarely targeted commercially by fishermen in Cornwall although some are caught by anglers. 
Most Gilthead bream seen in fish mongers and restaurants are farmed Gilthead seabream which are imported from Greece and other Mediterranean countries. 
According to MMO data only 29kg of Gilthead bream were landed by commercial fishermen to Cornish ports in 2019.
Updated July 2023

Sustainability ratings for this species

Hook and line

Cornwall, ICES area VIIe-f

Handlining is a low impact and selective fishing method and in this case includes rod and line fishing.

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Gill Netting

Cornwall, ICES area VIIe-f

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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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.


Gilthead bream are predatory coastal fish found in estuaries and bays. They can grow to lengths of 70 cm and live for as long as 11 years. They are most often found in coastal areas but have been caught at depths of up to 150m. Spawning occurs between November and December. They are solitary or found in small aggregations. They prey on worms and crustaceans as well as smaller fish. They have impressive teeth when looked at close-up. Interestingly they start out life as males and change sext at around 3 years of age they can change sex. 
Biological vulnerability score (Cheung et all 2005) is 40% - moderately vulnerable to fishing.

Stock Info

Very little is known about the stock of gilthead bream. Landings to Cornish ports by commercial fishing operations are less than 1 tonne per year.


No Minimum landing size – none in EU or Cornwall, No restriction or quota.
Not managed. Fishery is very small at present and there is no current cause for increased managment in this area.

Capture Info

Gilthead bream are most commonly caught by anglers and handliners but are also caught using bass nets in coastal and estuarine areas.


MMO Data
Cheung, W.W.L., T.J. Pitcher and D. Pauly, 2005. A fuzzy logic expert system to estimate intrinsic extinction vulnerabilities of marine fishes to fishing. Biol. Conserv. 124:97-111

Recipes for gilt head bream

Where to buy

Find and buy Cornish Seafood

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