Plaice

Pleuronectes platessa

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
Picture of Plaice

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

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. Of a total catch of 7764 tonnes of plaice in the Eastern Channel in 2017, 52% comprised unwanted catch. Avoid eating immature plaice below 30cm and during their breeding season, January to March.

Biology

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 45 cm 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.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0 info

Stock Area

Eastern Channel

Stock information

The spawning-stock biomass (SSB) has increased rapidly from 2010 following a period of high recruitment between 2009 and 2015, and is now well above the MSY Btrigger. Fishing mortality (F) has declined since the early 2000s and it has been below FMSY since 2009. Recruitment (R) is currently around the average of the time-series.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is below FMSY, Fpa, and Flim; spawning-stock size is above MSY Btrigger, Bpa, and Blim.

Management

Criterion score: 0.5 info

No specific management objectives are known to ICES. The EU has proposed a multiannual management plan for the Western Waters, which is not yet finalised.
Management decisions are informed by an annual stock assessment, catches of plaice have closely followed the agreed Total Allowable Catches (TAC) over the last 5 years, and a comprehensive regulatory framework has been put in place.
A single TAC however covers both divisions 7.d and 7.e. Scientists advise that management should ensure that fishing opportunities are in line with the stock status for each of the stocks in the combined management area to ensure that both stocks are exploited sustainably. For this reason, scientists advise that separate management areas would be desirable.
Plaice is caught in a mixed fishery targeting sole, with 80 mm mesh size. This leads to many plaice being discarded because this mesh size is not matched to the minimum conservation reference size (MCRS).

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Plaice in this area is mainly caught in 80 mm beam-trawl fisheries for sole and in mixed demersal fisheries using otter trawls. Trammel nets are also used. 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. The mesh size regulation (80 mm) leads to a large number of plaice being discarded because this mesh size is not matched to the minimum conservation reference size (MRCS) of 27cm for plaice in EU waters. Of a total catch of 7764 tonnes of plaice in the Eastern Channel in 2017, 52% comprised unwanted catch. The approximate size at which 50% of females mature or first spawn is around 30-34cm.

Alternatives

Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Dab
Halibut, Atlantic (Farmed)
Halibut, Pacific
Megrim
Plaice
Sole, Dover sole, Common sole
Sole, Lemon
Turbot (Caught at sea)
Turbot (Farmed)

References

ICES 2018. ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort Greater North Sea Ecoregion. Published 29 June 2018. http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2018/2018/ple.27.7d.pdf (Accessed July 2018)