Sole, Dover sole, Common sole

Solea solea

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Skagerrak and Kattegat, western Baltic Sea
Stock detail — 22-24
Picture of Sole, Dover sole, Common sole

Sustainability rating four info

Sustainability overview

ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is too high, it is above FMSY and Fpa but below Flim, and spawning stock size is at a sustainable level, above MSY Btrigger and Blim. Avoid eating immature sole (less than 30cm) and fresh (not previously frozen) fish caught during the breeding season (April-June).


Sole is a right-eyed flatfish (eyes on the right hand side of the body) and belongs to the family of flatfishes known as Soleidae. It spawns in spring and early summer in shallow coastal water, from April to June in the southern North Sea, from May-June off the coast of Ireland and southern England, and as early as February in the Mediterranean. Common sole become sexually mature at 3-5 years, when 25-35cm long, the males being somewhat smaller than the females. It can attain lengths of 60-70cm and weigh 3kg.The maximum reported age is 26 years. Sole is a nocturnal predator and therefore more susceptible to capture by fisheries at night than in daylight.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0.75 info

Stock Area

Skagerrak and Kattegat, western Baltic Sea

Stock information

Spawning-stock biomass (SSB) has been fluctuating close to Blim since 2008 but has in the past three years increased and is now above MSY Btrigger. Fishing mortality (F) has increased above Fmsy in 2017. The recruitment since 2004 is estimated to be below the average of the time-series.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is above FMSY and Fpa but below Flim, and spawning stock size is above MSY Btrigger and Blim.
ICES advises that when the proposed EU multiannual plan (MAP) is applied, catches in 2019 are between 422 tonnes and 562 tonnes The advised catch for 2019 represents an increase from previous advice due to an increase in SSB.


Criterion score: 0.25 info

No specific management objectives are known to ICES, there is no management plan for sole in the area. Stock managed through a Total Allowable Catch (TAC).

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Sole is taken in this area in a directed trawl fishery with bycatch of Nephrops, plaice and cod and as bycatch in the Nephrops trawl fishery. There is also a directed gillnet fishery, mainly in Skaggerak in spring and summer. Minimum landing size for sole in EU waters is 24cm, sole mature at 30cm. The introduction of sorting grids in trawls may have resulted in smaller bycatch and improved selectivity on sole. Since 2008 exit square mesh panels have been mandatory in the trawl fishery to prevent bycatches of cod.


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 Baltic Sea and Greater North Sea Ecoregions. Published 29 June 2018. Available at: (Accessed July 2018)