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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 - Western English Channel
Stock detail - VIIe
Certification -
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 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).

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
Western English Channel

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Stock information
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.

Management

No specific management objectives are known to ICES, there is no management plan for sole in the area.

Capture information

The principal gears used for this stock are beam trawls (51%), otter trawls (27%), and gillnets (12%). Sole is the target species of an offshore beam trawl fleet concentrated off the south Cornish and Devon coast. Beam trawling, especially using chain-mat gear, is known to have significant impact on seabed and benthic communities. It is also associated with high levels of discard. Whilst discards of sole are known to be low in the beam trawl fishery, there is substantial discarding of non-commercial species and commercial species of unmarketable size species. Some beam trawlers are experimenting with benthic drop-out panels that release about 75% of benthic invertebrates from the catches. Full square mesh codends are being tested in order to reduce the capture of benthos further and improve selectivity of gadoids (cod and whiting etc). Minimum landing size for sole in EU waters is 24cm. Sole mature at 30cm.

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 5 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/sol-echw.pdf

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