Henry Gilbey
Cape Cod - 1010.jpg


Henry Gilbey blog

Potentially good news on bass MLS, but why can't newspapers get (sea) bass right?

As per below from The Times on Monday, it is seeming increasingly likely that an increase in the bass MLS (Minimum Landing Size) from 36cms to 42cms will be agreed next month, and of course this is potentially some more good news as regards the future of the bass stocks. Any chance that bass have to grow that bit bigger and hopefully get the chance to breed before being hoovered up has got to be a good thing, but have a look at that article from The Times and see if you notice anything slightly amiss………

We only have one kind of bass in UK waters, and they happen to live in saltwater. As far as I know these bass have been called simply bass for many years, so why on earth does a newspaper like The Times feel the need to call them sea bass? Are they worried that their readership either won’t know what a bass is, or that the fish could be mistaken for bass, as in bass guitar etc.? Is it a modern, chef kind of thing to call bass sea bass, and is it increasingly here to stay? I understand completely if there is a distinction that needs to be made between fresh and saltwater bass, but since we don’t have freshwater bass in the UK, how about bass remain simply bass? Does one have to assume that the lack of general awareness of the natural world will soon mean that a fish like cod gets referred to as sea cod? Remember the attempt to rebrand pollack as colin?

This minor gripe aside, I am guessing that all of you did a double-take at the main photograph used in the article and thought hang on, those fish don’t look like “our” bass!! As a photographer myself who has also had a little bit of experience of the power of the press when they got hold of the fact that we saw a great white shark off the coast of north Cornwall some years back, it winds me up no end that an article all about (sea) bass in a “proper” newspaper like The Times can’t get things right and use a photograph of the kind of bass that are being talked about in the article - instead of what I am guessing are Chilean sea bass. How hard is it to get things right? I remember being interviewed by various newspapers over that white shark, and then reading the subsequent articles and realising that they bore little correlation to what I had actually said.

I bet you what happened was that a picture researcher was tasked with the job of finding a suitable photo of “sea bass” to go with an article on sea bass, so they tap “sea bass” into a stock library such as Getty, Corbis etc., and up comes this non-bass as we know it photo - because it’s most likely tagged as “sea bass”. In the article it goes, out goes the newspaper, and at the end of the day I suppose it doesn’t really matter save for the fact that to me it’s lazy and kinda misleading to get something this simple so wrong. If I went and sent the wrong photos in to say Sea Angler to go with one of my articles, I would get my knuckles wrapped. Forget about my grumpiness though, because really I am wanting to jump for joy that this increase in the MLS might actually happen. Nothing is guaranteed of course, but things do seem to be happening with regards to (sea!!) bass preservation/rescue/rebuilding etc.