Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Demersal otter trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Southwest Ireland
Stock detail - VIIh-k
Fish type - White flat fish
The state of the stock in the Irish Sea is unknown. Fishing mortality is too high. Discards are in the order of 30% (by weight). Plaice is a long-lived species and is vulnerable to high fishing pressure. 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.
There is no accepted analytical assessment for this stock. Reference points are not defined and stock status is unknown. Spawning stock biomass is low and has decreased significantly since the 1990s. Fishing mortality is highly variable although too high and well above potential reference points. ICES advises that there should be a 4% reduction in landings and that they should be no more than 135 tonnes in 2014 and 2015. This advice is repeated for 2016. Scientists also advise that bycatch and discards should be reduced. Discards are in the order of 30%.
No specific management objectives are known to ICES.
Plaice catches in Division VIIj represent half of the total catch in the area and are mainly caught by Irish vessels fishing on sandy grounds off the southwest of Ireland. Trawling is associated with discarding of unwanted fish, i.e. undersized and/or non-quota and/or over-quota species. Discard rates are high; in 2013 55% of the plaice (by number) caught in VIIjk were discarded (39% by weight). 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 5 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2015/2015/ple-7h-k.pdf
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