Good Fish Guide
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
Plaice is a long-lived species and subject to high fishing pressure. Fishing mortality on this stock as declined substantially since 2007 and in 2016 is estimated as at an appropriate level. The average reported discard rate of the last two years is 49% with beam and otter trawling accounting for more than 90% of these discards. Look for fish sold by vessels involved in the "Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme" for assurance of scientific co-operation, better environmental practices and experimentation with Benthic Release Panels to reduce impact to bottom dwelling species. Avoid eating immature plaice below 30cm and during their breeding season, January to March.
Plaice is a bottom-dwelling flatfish. It spawns in the early months of the year (January to March) and sometimes makes long spawning migrations. North Sea plaice reach between 35 and 45 cm in their 6th year. It is a long-lived species, becoming sexually mature at 3-7 years (females) 2-6 (males) and living 30 years or more. Maximum reported age 50 years.
Western English Channel
The stock is assessed using a data limited assessment based on trends. Spawning Stock Biomass has increased since 2008 and is currently at the time-series maximum and above the MSY B trigger (based on the lowest SSB from which the stock has recovered) proxy. There has been a continuous decline in fishing mortality in recent years (75% decline since 2007) and fishing mortality is below the proxy reference point. Recruitment has been above average since 2010. The average reported discard rate of the last two years is 49%.
There is a two-stage (a recovery plan during its first stage and a management plan during its second stage) management plan for North Sea sole and plaice adopted by the EC in June 2007. The management plan sets out to reduce fishing effort to a sustainable level, enabling the stocks to recover, at which point fishing effort should be maintained at a precautionary level. The plan has been evaluated by ICES as precautionary. The plan is now in stage two.
Plaice in this area are taken as a bycatch in the beam trawl fishery (55%) mainly targeting sole and anglerfish, and as part of a mixed demersal fishery by otter trawls (40%). Gillnets (3%) are also used. Trawl fisheries can have a high level of bycatch and discarding associated with them, particularly for flatfish. Smaller meshes are used (80 mm) by both beam and otter trawlers in mixed flatfish fisheries, resulting in the discarding of large numbers of undersized plaice below the legal minimum landing size. Discards, although once stated as relatively low compared to other plaice fisheries are estimated at 53% in 2015, with beam trawlers accounting for 54% and otter trawls 40% of these discards. The minimum landing size for plaice in EU waters is 27cm. The approximate size at which 50% of females mature or first spawn is around 30-34cm.
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/ple-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.