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 although unknown is increasing. Fishing mortality is too high. Plaice is a long-lived species and is vulnerable to high fishing pressure.
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 and the state of it is unknown. Landings are substantially below the Total Allowable Catch permitted, and have been declining. Fishing mortality, although stable since 2008, is too high and above potential reference points. The average spawning stock biomass in the last two years is 33% higher than in previous years ICES advises that there should be a 4% reduction in landings and that they should be no more than 135 tonnes in 2013. Scientists also advise that bycatch and discards should be reduced.
There is a potential for damage to the seabed by trawling. Trawling is also associated with discarding of unwanted fish, i.e. undersized and/or non-quota and/or over-quota species. 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. Discards in this fishery are in the order of more than 60% by weight.
ICES Advice 2013, Book 5
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