Pleuronectes platessa

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Gill or fixed net
Capture area — Baltic Sea (FAO 27)
Stock area — Baltic Sea
Stock detail — Subdivisions 24-32
Picture of Plaice

Sustainability rating four info

Sustainability overview

The available information is insufficient to evaluate reference points, however the stock size indicator is reported to have increased fivefold since 2002. ICES assesses the relative fishing pressure on the stock to be below FMSY proxy, and the relative spawning stock size to be above MSY Btrigger proxy. Discards are a problem in this fishery and can comprise as much as 100% of the catch with trawls accounting for a substantial amount of plaice discarded. 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 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: 0.5 info

Stock Area

Baltic Sea

Stock information

Based on information of biology and fishery of plaice, ICES decided that the plaice from the Belts (Subdivision 22) and the Sound (Subdivision 23), which were part of the Baltic Sea stock, should be considered as a separate stock unit together with the Kattegat (Subdivision 21).
The stock status relative to candidate reference points for the stock in this area (24-32) is unknown. The stock is a data-limited one for which an abundance index only is available.
The stock size indicator (relative Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB)) and relative recruitment have been increasing significantly since 2013. The relative fishing mortality has been declining in recent years and F in 2017 is the lowest observed in the time-series.
ICES assesses the relative fishing pressure on the stock to be below FMSY proxy, and the relative spawning stock size to be above MSY Btrigger proxy. Recruitment has been increasing in later years, while fishing mortality has decreased. This has led to an even further increase in SSB and contributes to the increase in catch advised by scientists for 2019.
ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, catches in 2019 should be no more than 3 725 tonnes.


Criterion score: 0.75 info

There is no management plan for plaice in this area. There is a proposed EU management plan for the Baltic Sea where bycatch of this species is considered. Depending on market prices and quota of target species (e.g. cod), discarding varies, but can comprise as much as 100% of the catch. The management areas for plaice in the Baltic Sea are different from the stock areas.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.75 info

Plaice are mainly caught by demersal trawlers and gillnetters in the Baltic Sea. Of a total catch of plaice of 1058 t in 2017, 38% was discarded (67% in 2016; 34% in 2015) , with active gears accounting for 87% of these discards. The minimum landing size for plaice in EU waters is 27cm. In the Baltic Sea it is 25cms. The approximate size at which 50% of females mature or first spawn is around 30-34cm.


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.

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


EU (2016). Regulation (EU) 2016/1139 of the European parliament and of the Council. Available at: (Last accessed July 2017)
ICES (2018) ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort Baltic Sea Ecoregion. Published 31 May 2018. Available at: (Last accessed July 2018)