Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Demersal otter trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Western 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 is too high and trawl fisheries associated with high levels of discards although discard rates of plaice in this area (VIIe) are much lower compared to other plaice stocks. Look for fish sold by vessels involved in the "Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme" for assurance of scientific co-operation, best environmental practices and experimentation with Benthic Release Panels to reduce impact to bottom dwelling species.
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 for this stock is currently well above F MSY and higher than the maximum level recommended by ICES, and has been since the late 1980's. Advice in recent years has been to substantially reduce catches. Spawning Stock Biomass is undefined in terms of precautionary reference points but is above MSY B trigger (Based on the lowest SSB from which the stock has recovered). This is mainly down to a very strong recruitment in 2010, with the 2011 recruitment also estimated to be the strongest in the time series. The revision of reference points (MSY Btrigger) is motivated by the confirmed rebuilding of the stock and a more optimistic perception of it compared to last year. ICES advises on the basis of the transition to the MSY approach that fishing mortality be reduced and landings in 2014 be no more than 1397 t (2100 t in 2013). Discards are known to take place but cannot be quantified.
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 (2%) 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. Discard rates of plaice in this area (VIIe) are however much lower compared to other plaice stocks.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 5
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