Plaice

Pleuronectes platessa

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Beam trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Bristol Channel and Celtic Sea
Stock detail — 7.f and g
Picture of Plaice

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is below FMSY proxy and biomass is above MSY Btrigger proxy. More plaice is discarded in this fishery than is landed. Seasonal closures and more selective fishing practices are recommended to reduce discards. 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

Bristol Channel and Celtic Sea

Stock information

There is no analytical assessment of this stock and so MSY reference points are not defined. Survey indices are used as indicators of stock development.
Fishing mortality has been declining since the late 1990s and is now below FMSY proxy. The biomass has been increasing since 2007 and is above MSY Btrigger proxy. ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is below FMSY proxy and biomass is above MSY Btrigger proxy.
ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, catches in 2019 should be no more than 2160 tonnes. This yearas advice has increased by 20% when compared to last yearas advice, due to the biomass increase.

Management

Criterion score: 0.75 info

No specific management objectives are known to ICES for this stock.
The EU has proposed a multiannual management plan for the Western Waters, which is not yet finalised.
Plaice in the Bristol Channel and Celtic Sea (ICES Divisions VIIf and g) are managed by total allowable catch (TAC), technical measures such as minimum mesh and landing sizes (27 cm), and restricted areas for classes of vessels. Closures during the first quarter of the year (Jan to March) in place to protect cod may have decreased fishing mortality on Celtic sea plaice on spawning grounds.
Sole and plaice are caught in mixed fisheries, which generates high discards of plaice owing to mismatch in the selectivity properties of the gear and the plaice minimum landings size. In addition, the relatively low market value of plaice may contribute to the high discard rates. The use of more selective fishing gears, specifically use of larger meshes, and seasonal closures are recommended to reduce discarding and increase the yield from the fishery. 70% (895 t) of the total catch in 2017 was discarded.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.75 info

The mixed plaice and sole fishery is dominated by beam and otter trawls, with bycatch of both commercial and non-commercial species. Although plaice are taken throughout the year, the larger landings occur during February to March after the peak spawning, and again in September. There is a high rate of discarding in both beam and otter trawl fisheries. From a catch of 1285 t of plaice taken in the area in 2017, 70% is estimated to have been discarded (56% in 2016; 70% in 2015), with beam trawlers accounting for 37% of the discards and otter trawls 58%. 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

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