Pleuronectes platessa

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Southwest Ireland
Stock detail — 7. h-k
Picture of Plaice

Sustainability rating five info

Sustainability overview

The stock size has declined to the lowest observed level. Fishing pressure is too high and total catches unknown. Discards are in the order of 30-35% (by weight). Plaice is a long-lived species and is vulnerable to high fishing pressure. 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: 1 info

Stock Area

Southwest Ireland

Stock information

The assessment is indicative of trends only. Spawning stock biomass (SSB) has decreased significantly since the 1990s and has been below Blim since 2002. Fishing mortality (F) is highly variable and has been above Flim for the entire time-series. Recruitment decreased until 2003 and has been low since then. Stock size has declined to well below Blim, the lowest observed level, and fishing pressure is too high and estimated as above the proxy for F MSY. The apparent reduction in SSB since the early 2000s is mainly driven by a reduction in abundance of young fish in recent years and high fishing mortality. However, it is unclear whether this lack of young fish in the landings is due to increased discarding or poor recruitment.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is above FMSY proxy, Fpa, and Flim, and the Spawning stock size is below MSY Btrigger proxy, Bpa, and Blim.
ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, there should be zero catch in each of the years 2019 and 2020.


Criterion score: 0.75 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. Plaice catches are taken in a mixed fishery and should, ICES advise, be managed as such. Management measures should also focus on reducing catches of small plaice. This could be achieved by increasing the selectivity of the fishing gear in use and/or by introducing temporal and spatial closures. Because plaice is caught in distinct areas, restricting effort in these areas could be effective.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Plaice catches in Division 7.j represent half of the total catch in the area and are mainly caught by Irish vessels fishing on sandy grounds off the southwest of Ireland. Trawling is associated with discarding of unwanted fish, i.e. undersized and/or non-quota and/or over-quota species. Discard rates are unknown as the total catch is unknown but are in the order of 30-35%. 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.


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)


ICES 2018. ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort Celtic Seas and Oceanic Northeast Atlantic ecoregions. Published 29 June 2018. (Accessed July 2018)