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European seabass

European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax (Linnaeus, 1758)) are strong swimmers, tolerant to a wide range of temperatures and salinity. In the North East Atlantic, habitat preference and - use change between seasons and life-history stages. Shallow areas in coastal lagoons and estuaries serve as nurseries for young seabass. The refuge and food abundance of inshore waters allow sea bass to feed in summer. In autumn, the oceanodromous seabass heads south in search of warmer temperatures in deeper, offshore waters in winter. These migrations shape the population structure on the one hand and imply distinct seasonal patterns in habitat use on the other.

However, little is known on sea bass movement behaviour and its drivers in the North Sea. Prized by both commercial and recreational fishermen, European seabass has long been exploited at unsustainable levels. Its critical status demonstrates the pressing need for more ecological knowledge. As previous management failures have been largely attributed to data deficiency, a thorough understanding of seabass movement behaviour and habitat use is urgently needed.

In the framework of the Belgian LifeWatch marine observatory, European seabass are tagged since 2018 with Acoustic Data Storage Tags (ADST). The ADST merges the advantages of both acoustic and archival tag types, maximising data gathering opportunities and thus minimising the risk of data deficiency. The acoustic component of this tag allows for tagged fish to be detected by the permanent Belgian Acoustic Receiver Network, or beyond, through the data platform of the European Tracking Network. In addition, the tag itself stores depth and temperature data, which enables the vertical and horizontal track reconstruction upon recapture. Therefore, the recovery of these tags gives us access to the important data stored on the tag. If you have found a tag: please contact or!



Left: Operation of European seabass (©VLIZ) - Middle: Seabass post-operation (see scar in the abdomen) (©VLIZ) - Right: Vemco Acoustic Data Storage Tag (ADST)