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. Stock biomass has increased and is currently around the highest level recorded. Trawl fisheries are associated with high levels of discarding, 30-40% 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.
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) but has subsequently increased since 2008 to a record historical high. ICES recommends that catches of plaice should be no more than 17,250 tonnes in 2016. Provided discard rates (36%) do not change this implies landings of no more than 11,096 tonnes (3279t in 2015; 3925 t in 2014).
No specific management objectives are known to ICES.
Plaice in this area is mainly caught in 80 mm beam-trawl fisheries (39%) for sole and in mixed demersal fisheries using otter trawls (30%). Trammel nets are also used (16%). 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 of 30-40% 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 2015, Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2015/2015/ple-eche.pdf
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