Sole, Dover sole, Common sole
Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Demersal otter trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Irish Sea
Stock detail - VIIa
Fish type - White flat fish
The Irish Sea sole stock is depleted and fishing pressure is too high. ICES advises that there be no directed fisheries for this species in the Irsih Sea in 2013. Avoid eating sole from the Irish Sea.
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.
The Irish Sea sole stock is classified as having reduced reproductive capacity i.e. it is depleted and also below MSY Btrigger. Spawning stock biomass has continuously declined since 2001 and dropped below B lim and remained below this level since 2006, reaching its lowest level in 2012. Fishing mortality is still above target for MSY. ICES advises that there should be no directed fisheries in 2014 and that bycatch and discards should be minimised.
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Sole are predominantly caught by beam trawlers (89%) and otter trawls (11%) in the Irish Sea. Whilst discards of sole are known to be low in the beam trawl fishery, there can often be high amounts of discarding of other species. Beam trawling, especially using chain-mat gear, is known to have a significant impact on the benthic communities, although less so on soft substrates. Minimum landing size for sole in EU waters is 24cm. Sole mature at 30cm.
ICES Advice 2013, Book5
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