International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
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Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast ecoregion – fisheries overview

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posted on 2024-01-25, 08:03 authored by ICESICES

The commercial fisheries in the ecoregion target a wide variety of stocks, resulting in a diverse and spatially varied fishing industry. The countries with the largest landings and effort in the ecoregion are Spain, Portugal, and France, with minor landings from Ireland, Belgium, and UK. The most common gear used in the area is bottom trawls, which target demersal species. The highest landings, however, are taken by midwater trawls mainly targeting species such as blue whiting, mackerel, and to a lesser extent species such as sardine.

Of the wide variety of stocks both targeted and caught as bycatch, 73 are evaluated by ICES for spawning‑stock biomass (SSB) size and fishing pressure. Twenty-two stocks have been evaluated against maximum sustainable yield (MSY) reference points for fishing mortality, and 86% of these are fished below FMSY. 

In addition to biomass removal, ecosystem effects of fisheries include abrasion, ghost fishing, damage to benthic fauna by demersal trawling, and bycatch of marine mammals, elasmobranchs, and seabirds. Several regulatory and research efforts are in place or are being developed that are aimed at reducing the impact of fishing on the ecosystem.

Supporting data used in the Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast fisheries overview is accessible at 


Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee

  • ACOM
  • FRSG


ICES Advice: Fisheries overviews

Recommended citation

ICES. 2022. Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast ecoregion – Fisheries Overview. In Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, 2022. ICES Advice 2022, section 6.2.