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 — Celtic Sea
Stock detail — 7. f and g
Picture of Sole, Dover sole, Common sole

Sustainability rating four info

Sustainability overview

The stock is classified as healthy but fishing mortality is too high. Sole is mainly taken as bycatch in a beam trawl fishery. Avoid sourcing 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

Celtic Sea

Stock information

In recent years, the Spawning stock biomass (SSB) has been fluctuating around MSY Btrigger, and is in 2018 estimated to be just above MSY Btrigger. Fishing mortality (F) has been fluctuating above FMSY since 1979. The 2015 and 2017 recruitment are estimated to be well above average with the latter being the second highest in the time-series.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is above FMSY and between 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 864 tonnes.


Criterion score: 0.25 info

The EU has proposed a multiannual management plan for the Western Waters, which is not yet finalised. Catches are controlled by a Total Allowable Catch (TAC). The EU landings obligation applies to some fleets catching sole from 2017.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Sole is mainly taken in a directed beam trawl fishery with plaice, rays, brill, turbot and anglerfish, as a bycatch. Otter trawls are relatively less damaging than beam trawling but are still associated with habitat damage and high levels of discards and bycatch. Minimum landing size for sole in EU waters is 24cm. Sole mature at 30cm.


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 Greater North Sea Ecoregion. Published 29 June 2018. Available at: (Accessed July 2018)