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, although reducing, is still too high. Look for fish sold by vessels involved in the "Seafish Responsible Fishing Scheme" for assurance of scientific co-operation, better environmental practices and experimentation with Benthic Release Panels to reduce impact to bottom dwelling species. 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
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. A large reduction in fishing mortality occurred between 2007 and 2013 and, although fishing pressure is still too high, it is now just above FMSY. ICES advises on the basis of the MSY approach catches in 2015 should be no more than 1885t. If discard rates do not change, this implies landings of no more than 1318t (1397t in 2014; 2100 t in 2013). Discarding is lower for this stock compared to others at about 20%.
No specific management objectives are known to ICES.
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 (37%). Gillnets (5%) 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. Discards are relatively low for this area, at 20%, compared to other plaice fisheries. 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 2014, Book 5 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2014/2014/ple-echw.pdf
Sign up to get all the latest marine related news from MCS
The UK charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife.