Sole, Dover sole, Common sole

Solea solea

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Beam trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Eastern Channel
Stock detail — 7.d
Picture of Sole, Dover sole, Common sole

Sustainability rating four info

Sustainability overview

The stock level for eastern Channel sole is now estimated to be too low although fishing pressure is at a sustainable level. To increase the sustainability of the fish you eat from this area, choose sole from the Hastings Fleet trammel net fishery which is certified as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council. 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

Eastern Channel

Stock information

The spawning-stock biomass (SSB) has been fluctuating without trend since the 1980s, but has decreased and is now around Blim. Fishing mortality (F) has been decreasing since 2014 and is below FMSY in 2017. Recruitment has been fluctuating without trend, and there has been no strong recruitment since 2011.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is below FMSY, Fpa, and Flim; and spawning-stock size is below MSY Btrigger and between Bpa and Blim.
ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2019 should be no more than 2571 tonnes, a third lower than advised for catches in 2018.


Criterion score: 0.25 info

The EU has proposed a multiannual management plan for the Western Waters, which is not yet finalised.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.75 info

Sole is caught in 80 mm beam trawl fisheries with plaice or in mixed demersal fisheries using otter trawls. Due to the minimum mesh size (80 mm) in the mixed beam trawl fishery, a large number of undersized plaice is discarded as the mesh size is not matched to the minimum landing size of plaice. An increase in mesh size would help to protect juvenile plaice, however it is likely that there would be a loss of marketable sole. Beam trawling has a physical impact on the seabed and impacts biomass, production and species biodiversity. Vessels also fish for scallops and cuttlefish using this method. Minimum landing size for sole in EU waters is 24cm.


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).