Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Demersal otter trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Eastern Channel
Stock detail - VIId
Fish type - White flat fish
Plaice is a long-lived species and subject to high fishing pressure. The state of the stock in this area is unknown. ICES advises that catches should be no more than 4300 t and discards be reduced. Trawl fisheries are associated with high levels of discarding, up to 50% in number. 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 45cm 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.
The state of the stock in relation to precautionary or safe biological limits is unknown, and advice is provided on the basis of trends only. Fishing mortality has declined since the mid 1990s and is presently among the lowest in the time-series. Spawning stock biomass declined from the 1990s to a record low (2003-08) and has subsequently increased. As a minimum measure, no increase in fishing effort is recommended. ICES recommends that landings of plaice should be no more than 3925 t in 2014, and discarding should be reduced.
Plaice in this area is mainly caught in 80 mm beam-trawl fisheries (48%) for sole and in mixed demersal fisheries using otter trawls (30%). Trammel nets are also used (18%). Bottom trawling can cause damage to the seabed in sensitive areas. Trawl fisheries for plaice have bycatch of both commercial and non-commercial species and high levels of discarding associated with them, particularly for flatfish. Survey information indicates percentages of discards up to 50% in number. 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.
ICES Advice 2013, Book 6
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