Good Fish Guide
Sole, Dover sole, Common sole
Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Demersal otter trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Western English Channel
Stock detail - VIIe
Fish type - White flat fish
The stock level in this area, although at a low level compared to the 1980s, has been around MSY trigger for about 20 years and is now above that level. Fishing pressure is in accordance with that required to achieve the maximum sustainable yield. Avoid eating immature sole (less than 30cm) and fresh (not previously frozen) fish caught during the breeding season (April-June). If buying beam trawl-caught fish ask for fish from boats using technology to reduce discards such as Fully Documented Fisheries (FDF).
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.
Western English Channel
Spawning-stock biomass (SSB) has been above MSY Btrigger since 1999. Fishing mortality (F) is estimated to have been below FMSY since 2009. Recruitment (R) has been variable without an overall trend. Stock is assessed as having full reproductive capacity and is fished sustainably.
A multi-annual plan has been established for western Channel sole, but ICES is yet to evaluate the plan. Although the plan has yet to be evaluated this is a positive step for the sustainable management of the fishery in the longer term. Management of the stock is mainly by Total Allowable Catch (TAC). In 2005, effort restrictions were implemented for beam trawlers to enforce the TAC and improve data quality. Since 2008 the UK has been enforcing a single-area licensing scheme which has been effective in reducing UK catches. A catch-quota scheme has been implemented for beam trawlers in the UK since 2010. In 2013, the UK fully documented fisheries (FDF) beam trawl catches represented 24% of the total UK beam trawl landings.
The principal gears used for this stock are beam trawls (51%), otter trawls (27%), and gillnets (12%). Otter trawls and gillnetters take sole mainly as a bycatch, although there is also a fishery targeting sole at spawning time. Otter trawls are less damaging to the marine environment in comparison with beam trawls. 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.
ICES Advice 2016, Book 5 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/sol-echw.pdf
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