The present study evaluated the combined effect of Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) using two different gas mixtures (40% CO(2)/50% N(2)/10% O(2): treatment M1, 60% CO(2)/30% N(2)/10% O(2), treatment M2), and thyme oil (0.2% v/w, T) used as a natural preservative, on the quality and shelf life extension of fresh product of organic aquaculture, during refrigerated storage (4 +/- 0.5 degrees C), for a period of filleted sea bass, 21 days. Aerobically packaged sea bass fillets (A) were used as control samples. The dominant bacteria in the microflora of sea bass fillets, irrespective of treatment, were the pseudomonads and the H(2)S-producing bacteria while lactic acid bacteria were also part of the dominant microflora. Total viable counts for fresh sea bass fillets stored aerobically exceeded 7 log CFU/g after 7 days, while treatments M1, M2 and M2+T reached the same value oil days 9, 10, 12 and 19, respectively. Among the A+T, chemical indices determined, TBA values were within the good quality limits (2-4 mg MDA/kg), during the sensory shelf lives of sea bass samples, irrespective of treatment. TVB-N proved to be a suitable index for the spoilage of sea bass fillets stored at 4 degrees C. Samples A and A+T, M1, M2, M2+T exceeded the proposed upper TVB-N acceptability limit (10 mg N/100 g) oil days 6, 8, 9, 13 and 17 of storage respectively. TMA-N values of the samples A, A+T and M1, M2, M2+T exceeded the proposed limit (4 mg N/100 g) on days 6, 9, 9-10, 13 and 19 of storage, respectively, and correlated well with the microbiological data, indicating that along with TVB-N, TMA-N may serve as a useful index for sea bass fillets spoilage. As regards sensory evaluation, the presence of thyme oil proved to improve the sensory quality of sea bass fillets when used in combination with MAP2, providing a shelf life of 17 days as compared to 6 days of the control samples. (c) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.