Good Fish Guide
Sole, Dover sole, Common sole
Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Gill net,Fixed net
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Skagerrak, Kattegat and Western Baltic Sea
Stock detail - IIIa and 22-24
Fish type - White flat fish
Spawning stock biomass in this area is below target. Avoid eating immature sole (less than 30cm) and fresh (not previously frozen) fish caught during the breeding season (April-June).
Sole is a right-eyed flatfish (eyes on the right hand side of the body) and belongs to the family of flatfishes known as Soleidae. It spawns in spring and early summer in shallow coastal water, from April to June in the southern North Sea, from May-June off the coast of Ireland and southern England, and as early as February in the Mediterranean. Common sole become sexually mature at 3-5 years, when 25-35cm long, the males being somewhat smaller than the females. It can attain lengths of 60-70cm and weigh 3kg.The maximum reported age is 26 years. Sole is a nocturnal predator and therefore more susceptible to capture by fisheries at night than in daylight.
Skagerrak, Kattegat and Western Baltic Sea
Following an inter-benchmark process in the autumn of 2015 the perceptionof the stock has changed and new reference points were defined. An assessment is provided for the combined areas, IIIa and 22-24, which were previously assessed as separate stocks.
Spawning-stock biomass (SSB) has been fluctuating between MSY Btrigger and Blim since 2008 and is estimated to be below MSY Btrigger in 2016. Fishing mortality (F) has decreased since 2005 and has been below FMSY since 2010. After a series of low recruitment years the 2013 and 2014 year classes are estimated to be above recent average. The stock is at increased risk although fishing pressure is at a sustainable level.
ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2017 should be no more than 555 tonnes.
No specific management objectives are known to ICES, there is no management plan for sole in the area.
There is a directed gillnet fishery, mainly in Skaggerak, in spring and summer. Gillnets can be very size selective for the target fish but can be unselective at the species level for both non-target fish and for mammals, birds and turtles. Harbour porpoise are highly prone to bycatch in bottom-set gillnets used to catch demersal species such as cod, turbot, hake, saithe, sole, skate and dogfish and tangle net fisheries used to capture flat fish and crustaceans, due largely to their feeding habits on or near the seabed. Porpoises are generally taken as single animals. EU Regulation 821/2004 requires all community fishing vessels, greater than or equal to 12 metres, using drift, gill and tangle nets to use pingers - acoustic devices to deter marine mammal entanglement in nets. It also requires Member States to introduce observer schemes to monitor cetacean bycatch in certain fisheries, most notably in pelagic trawls, and the phase out of driftnet fisheries in the Baltic Sea. Because of their durability, nets are made of nylon; if lost the net can continue to fish, a phenomenon known as 'ghost fishing'. Minimum landing size for sole in EU waters is 24cm, Sole mature at 30cm.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below . Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.
The Net Effect. A WDCS Report for Greenpeace. Ross and Isaac (2004); The Price of Fish: A review of cetacean bycatch in fisheries in the north-east Atantic. L Nunny (2011); ICES Advice 2016, Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/sol-kask.pdf
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