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 — Irish Sea
Stock detail — 7. a
Picture of Sole, Dover sole, Common sole

Sustainability rating five info

Sustainability overview

The biomass for this stock is below the limit reference point - the lowest level recorded.


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: Default red rating info

Stock Area

Irish Sea

Stock information

Spawning stock biomass (SSB) has shown a declining trend since the mid-1980s, being well below Blim since 2004. The SSB increased from 2014 but still remains below Blim in 2018. The fishing mortality (F) has been declining since the late 1980s and is presently well below FMSY and close to zero.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is below FMSY, Fpa, and Flim, and the Spawning stock size is below MSY Btrigger, Bpa, and Blim.
ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2019 should be no more than 414 tonnes.


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

Capture Information

Sole are predominantly caught by beam trawlers and otter trawls in the Irish Sea. Whilst discards of sole are known to be low (6% by weight) in the beam trawl fishery, there can often be high amounts of discarding of other species. Beam trawling, especially using chain-mat gear, is known to have a significant impact on the benthic communities, although less so on soft substrates. 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 Ecoregion. Published 29 June 2018. Available at: (Accessed July 2018)
ICES Advice 2016, Book 5