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 - Eastern Channel
Stock detail - VIId
Certification - Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Fish type - White flat fish
The stock in the eastern Channel is classified as 'having full reproductive capacity' or healthy, but at risk of being harvested unsustainably, i.e. fishing pressure is higher than the maximum level recommended by ICES. To increase the sustainability of the fish you eat from this area choose sole from the Hastings Fleet trammel net fishery, which is certified as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council. 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.
The spawning-stock biomass (SSB) has fluctuated without trend and is predicted to drop below MSY Btrigger in 2016. Fishing mortality (F) has always been above FMSY and increased over the years 2012-2015. Recruitment has been fluctuating without trend and was in 2012-2014 among the lowest of the time-series, which has resulted in the decrease in recent SSB. Stock size and fishing pressure are currently below and above both the MSY and precautionary reference levels. Prior to 2014, discards were assumed to be negligible, but new information indicates that discard rates are currently higher than previously assumed and are around 9%.
No specific management objectives are known to ICES, there is no management plan for sole in the area.
There is a directed fishery for sole during parts of the year by inshore trawlers and netters (47 %) on the English and French coasts. Trammel nets are are a wall of net divided into three layers. An inner fine-meshed net is sandwiched between two outer, larger meshed nets. The net is anchored at the base and floated by the headline, allowing it to hang vertically. The inner net is looser than the outer ones, ensuring that the fish become entangled within it. This is a method with little or no impact on the seabed but it can be associated with bycatch. Fish caught in trammel nets are often very good quality as they are not damaged by the capture process. Look for fisheries with large mesh net that select for sole at or above 30cm, the size at which they mature. Minimum landing size for sole in EU waters is 24cm. For trammel nets the minimum mesh size is 100 mm.
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-eche.pdf
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