Plaice

Pleuronectes platessa

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Beam trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Irish Sea
Stock detail — VIIa
Picture of Plaice

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

Plaice is a long-lived species. The Irish Sea plaice stock biomass has increased and is well above the required level. Discarding is a significant problem in the fishery. 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

Irish Sea

Stock information

Prior to 2017 the assessment for this stock was a trends-based one only. The stock was benchmarked in 2017 and a full assessment available since that time.
The Spawning stock biomass (SSB) has increased since 2012 and has been well above MSY Btrigger since 2013. Recruitment (R) has fluctuated but has been decreasing from 2014. Fishing mortality (F) has been rapidly decreasing since 1992 and has been below FMSY since 2011.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is below FMSY, Fpa and Flim; and Spawning stock size is above MSY Btrigger, Bpa, and Blim.
ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2019 should be no more than 3503 tonnes.

Management

Criterion score: 0.75 info

No specific management objectives are known to ICES. Technical measures enforced are minimum mesh and landing size (27 cm). Since 2004, the majority of the catch has been discarded (62% average discard since 2004). Average discard rate over the last three years (2015-2017) applied to the total catch for that period is 74%. 40% of these discards are estimated to survive. Discarding is a significant problem in the fishery with gear selectivity measures seemingly having little effect.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.75 info

Plaice in the Irish Sea are taken in otter trawls in mixed demersal fisheries and in Nephrops fisheries. They are also taken as bycatch in targeted beam trawl fisheries for sole. Beam trawling, especially when using chain-mat gear, is known to have a significant impact on benthic communities, although less so on soft substrate such as mud and in areas which have been historically fished by this method. The plaice fishery in the Irish Sea is known to have a high levels of discarding, with the majority of the catch since 2004 discarded, partly due to the mis-match between minimum landing size and minimum mesh size. Discarding rates in 2017 is estimated at 59% (39% in 2016; 56% in 2015) with beam trawls accounting for 52% of discards (39% in 2016) of those plaice discarded and otter trawls 40% (62% in 2015). 40% of plaice discarded are estimated to survive. 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.

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

Catchpole, T., Randall, P., Forster, R., Smith, S., Ribeiro Santos, A., Armstrong, F., Hetherington, S., Bendall, V., and Maxwell, D. 2015. Estimating the discard survival rates of selected commercial fish (plaice Pleuronectes platessa) in four English fisheries. MF1234, Cefas report. 108 ppICES 2018.
ICES 2018. ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort Celtic Seas Ecoregion. Published 29 June 2018. Available at: http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2018/2018/ple.27.7a.pdf (Accessed July 2018)