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 - 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.
No specific management objectives are known to ICES, there is no management plan for sole in the area.
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. The number taken ranges from 1 in 20 hauls for skate to 1 in 54 hauls for cod. High levels of harbour porpoise bycatch have been recorded in the Celtic and North Sea. 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. However, despite the pinger requirement coming into force in June 2005 in the North Sea, January 2006 in the Western Channel and January 2007 in the Eastern Channel, the UK fleet (along with the majority of European vessels) is still not applying this provision. The reason given is that the pingers available present too many practical and health and safety problems. This means that in the UK there are still no mitigation measures in place to reduce what is likely to remain the main conservation and welfare problem affecting cetaceans around our coasts. Other measures that maybe adopted to reduce the number of marine mammal casualities include reducing the length of the net and soak time, i.e. the period of time the net is in the sea. Because of their durability, nets are made of nylon; if lost the net can continue to fish, a phenomenon known as 'ghost fishing'.
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
Sign up to get all the latest marine related news from MCS
The UK charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife.