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 — West of Ireland
Stock detail — 7b, 7c
Picture of Sole, Dover sole, Common sole

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

The state of the stock in this area is unknown, landings have been low for many years and scientific advice is to reduce catches by 20%. It is best to avoid eating sole from this area until a reliable assessment can be carried out on the stock.


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: 0.5 info

Stock Area

West of Ireland

Stock information

The state of the stock is unknown. No reference points are defined for this stock. Landings have been at a low level for several decades. ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, catches should be no more than 24 tonnes in each of the years 2018, 2019 and 2020 (30t in 2013-2017).


Criterion score: 0.5 info

ICES is not aware of any agreed precautionary management plan for sole in this area. Catches in this area are too low to support the collection of the necessary information for an assessment of the stock status. Management of the stock is by Total Allowable Catch (TAC). Agreed TACs often higher than advised.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Sole is caught in mixed fisheries targeting other demersal fish species, and Nephrops. Minimum landing size for sole in EU waters is 24cm. There is a potential for damage to the seabed by trawling. Trawling is also associated with discarding of unwanted fish, i.e. undersized and/or non-quota and/or over-quota species.


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)
Sole, Dover sole, Common sole
Turbot (Caught at sea)
Turbot (Farmed)


ICES, 2017. Available at: (Accessed July 2018)