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Pout or Bib

When is best to eat?



Trisopterus luscus. Pouting  (or bib) 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).  Little is known about pout stocks and larval studies show that pout larvae are decreasing in the English channel giving some concern for stocks. Like other gadoid (cod family) species it is possible that pout is being adversely affected in our waters by warming seas. 

59 tonnes of pouting were landed to Cornish ports in 2021, with a value of £13.7k.

Updated April  2024 

Sustainability ratings for this species

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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Gill Netting

Cornish waters

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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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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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, pouting 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. 

Research published in 2020 by ICES shows that by looking at catch per unit effort and appying analysis there is evidence that pouting stocks in the north sea are well below MSY, additionally research published by Di Panea et al in 2020 looking at abuncance of fish larvae in the English channel shows a threfold reduction in abundance of pouting larvae since the 1990's. 



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.


Froese et al 2020, Estimating stock status from relative abundance and resilience, ICES Journal of Marine Science
Di Panea et al, 2020 Recent changes in ichthyoplanktonic assemblages of the eastern English
Channel, Journal of Sea Research
Seafish Responsible sourcing guide pouting 2014
Identifying underutilised species - Tom Catchpole, Cefas, January 2011 (This project was funded by Defra)
MMO landings data to Cornish ports.

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