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Sole, Dover sole, Common sole

Solea solea

Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Beam trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - North Sea
Stock detail - IV
Certification - Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Fish type - White flat fish

Sustainability rating Click for explaination of rating

This fish, caught by the methods and in the area listed above, is a good sustainable fish to eat. Click on the rating icon above to read more and on the alternatives tab below to find similar fish to eat.


Sustainability overview

The Hastings Fleet Dover sole fishery and the Cooperative Fishery Organisation (CVO) North Sea plaice and sole fishery were certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as environmentally responsible or sustainable fisheries in July 2009 and December 2012 respectively. Avoid eating immature sole (less than 30cm) and fresh (not previously frozen) fish caught during the breeding season (April-June).

Biology

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.

Stock information

Stock area
North Sea

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Stock information
The spawning-stock biomass (SSB) has increased since 2007 and has been estimated at above MSY Btrigger since 2012. Fishing mortality (F) has declined since 1997 and is estimated to be at FMSY in 2015. Recruitment (R) has fluctuated without trend since the early 1990s.
ICES advises that catches in 2017 should be no more than 15 251 tonnes.

Management

The EU adopted a management plan for flatfish in the North Sea in June 2007 and it is considered by ICES, with a high probability, that this will prevent the stock dropping below safe biological limits in the next decade. The plan has been evaluated by ICES as precautionary.

Capture information

In the southern North Sea sole are mainly caught by beam trawlers (86%) in mixed fisheries with plaice and other flat fish using 80 mm mesh nets. In other areas the mesh size for mobile fishing gears is 100 and 120 cm. The smaller minimum mesh size in the mixed flatfish beam trawl fishery in the southern North Sea means that large numbers of undersized plaice and cod (which are currently under a recovery plan) are discarded. The introduction of measures to reduce discarding such as larger mesh sizes, larger landing sizes and additional measures to protect juvenile fish should be implemented in order to increase the sustainability of this fishery. An increase in minimum mesh size will reduce discards of juvenile plaice and cod, however it would also lead to a loss of marketable sole. Discards of sole in the order of 20% are known to take place. Minimum landing size for sole in EU waters is 24cm. Choosing fish caught by more selective methods, e.g. gill, fixed net or seine net, can help reduce the negative impacts associated with beam trawling in this area. Ensure fixed nets are 'dolphin friendly'. See Fishing Methods for information. Avoid eating immature sole (less than 30cm) and fresh (not previously frozen) fish caught during the breeding season (April-June).

Read more about capture methods

Alternatives

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.

Dab Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Flounder Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Halibut, Atlantic (Farmed) Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Halibut, Pacific

Sole, Dover sole, Common sole Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Turbot (Farmed)


References
ICES Advice 2016, Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/sol-nsea.pdf

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