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Sole, Lemon

Microstomus kitt

Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Beam trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - North Sea
Stock detail - IV and IIIa, VIId
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 not the most sustainable choice of fish to eat. Click on the rating icon above to read more and on the alternatives tab below to find more sustainable fish to eat.


Sustainability overview

The fishery for Lemon sole is generally unmanaged in EU waters and there is no minimum landing size. The exceptions for this are in areas IV and IIa where there is a mixed precautionary total allowable catch (TAC), and in Cornwall where a Minimum Landing Size of 25cm is enforced by local Cornish IFCA byelaw. Choose seine caught fish where possible, as this is currently the most sustainable capture method for the species.

Biology

Lemon sole is a widely distributed flatfish which is found in shelf waters of the North Atlantic, from the White Sea and Iceland southward to the Bay of Biscay. Lemon sole appears to prefer sandy and gravelly substrates, living deeper and at higher salinity and lower temperature than plaice or sole. Sexual maturity occurs in males at 3-4 years and at 4-6 years in females. Lemon sole may live for about 17 years and can attain lengths of over 60cm. They spawn in spring and summer, April to August.

Stock information

Stock area
North Sea

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Stock information
There is no formal or analytical assessment of lemon sole in EU waters. The main cause of this is lack of data; specifically data on age, effort, catch per unit effort (CPUE) etc. is required. However, survey information available for the North Sea subarea IV and Divisions IIIa and VIId indicates stable biomass at a high level. Landing data however show a declining long-term trend. ICES advice for 2016 and 2017 is that catches should be no more than 5,655 tonnes. Provided discard rates do not change (30% of the total catch) this implies landings of no more than 3959 tonnes.

Management

Lemon sole is mainly a bycatch species and as such the fishery is currently largely unmanaged. The only management of the fishery is under a combined total allowable catch (TAC) with witch. Scientists are concerned this prevents effective control of single species exploitation rates and could potentially leading to overfishing of either species.

Capture information

Lemon sole are generally taken as bycatch in mixed fisheries by beam trawlers (32%) and otter trawlers (59%), seine 4% and gillnet 4%. There is no minimum landing size set for lemon sole in EU waters. The size at maturity for the species ranges between 20-30cm, with all fish above 27cm in the North Sea being mature. In the Cornwall Sea Fisheries District, a Minimum Landing Size of 25cm is enforced, which is likely to represent a vast majority of mature fish. Trawling is associated with benthic impact, bycatch and discards.

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 2015, Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2015/2015/lem-nsea.pdf

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