Sole, Dover sole, Common sole
Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Beam trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Bay of Biscay
Stock detail - VIIIa,b,d
Fish type - White flat fish
The stock is currently healthy and although being fished in accordance with the precautionary approach, fishing mortality is above the rate required to meet maximum sustainable yield. Avoid eating immature sole (less than 30cm) and fresh (not previously frozen) fish caught during the breeding season (April-June).
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.
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay stock is classified as having full reproductive capacity, it is healthy, and the SSB above target reference points (Bpa & MSYB trigger). In 2010 the stock was being harvested sustainably in accordance with the precautionary approach but fishing mortality has increased in 2011 and now lies at a level between precautionary and limit reference points. F is also above the level required to meet maximum sustainable yield. ICES recommends that catches in 2014 should be no more than 3270 t. A multi annual management plan was put in place to restore the spawning stock to 13,000 t by 2008. This target is estimated to have been achieved. A long-term target fishing mortality rate and rate of reduction to achieve this has yet to be decided. The management plan has not yet been evaluated by ICES. The TAC agreed for 2013 was 17% more thanadvised by ICES scientists.
The French fleet, which consists mainly of trawlers and fixed-nets, is the major participant with landings comprising about 90% of the total. Landings of the fixed-net fishery comprise 60%. Bycatch of non-commercial species and discards are estimated to be limited in this fishery. 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. Minimum landing size for sole in EU waters is 24cm.
ICES Advice 2013, Book 7
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