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 — Celtic Sea South, southwest of Ireland
Stock detail — 7. h-k
Picture of Sole, Dover sole, Common sole

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

The state of the stock in this area is unknown with respect to reference points and only a trends based assessment available. Stock size is however estimated to be increasing and fishing pressure slowly decreasing. ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is below FMSY proxy, while Spawning stock size is above MSY Btrigger proxy. 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 info

Stock Area

Celtic Sea South, southwest of Ireland

Stock information

The assessment is indicative of trends only. The Spawning stock biomass (SSB) shows an increasing trend since the mid 2000s and has been above MSY Btrigger since 2015. Fishing mortality has been around FMSY over the last decade and is estimated to be currently below FMSY. Recruitment has fluctuated without trend over the time-series.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is below FMSY proxy, Fpa, and Flim, while Spawning stock size is above MSY Btrigger proxy, Bpa, and Blim.
ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, catches in 2019 should be no more than 311 tonnes.


Criterion score: 0.5 info

The EU has proposed a multiannual management plan for the Western Waters, which is not yet finalised. Scientists advise that as catches are taken in mixed fisheries, they should be managed as such.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.75 info

Sole in this area are mainly taken by otter and beam trawlers. Beam trawling, especially using chain-mat gear, is known to have significant impact on seabed and benthic communities. Whilst discards of sole are considered negligible in the fishery, there is discarding of non-commercial species and commercial species of unmarketable size. Some beam trawlers are experimenting with benthic drop-out panels that release about 75% of benthic invertebrates from the catches. Full square mesh codends are being tested in order to reduce the capture of benthos further and improve selectivity of gadoids (cod and whiting etc.). 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 Celtic Seas and Oceanic Northeast Atlantic ecoregions. Published 29 June 2018. Available at: (Accessed July 2018).