European plaice and sole | WWF
© Dan Schmitt / iStockPhoto

European plaice and sole

Flounder camouflaged in the sand.

European plaice and sole

Fish on the surface of the sea floor. rel= © Dan Schmitt / iStockPhoto

Scientific name: Pleuronectes platessa (plaice); Solea solea (sole)

Local names:
Plaice: carrelet, Northern flounder, palaia anglesa, passera, plie, punakampela, rödspätta, rødspette, rødspætte, schol, Scholle, skarkoli solha, solla, spätta
Sole: Black sole , Dover sole, glosa, lengua, lenguado, llenguado, linguata, meriantura, palaia, palaí, parkgate sole, river sole, sea partridge, Seezunge, slip, søtunge, Southport sole, tong, tounge, tunga, túppiti, Zunga

Main commercial products: Fresh and frozen whole fish and fillets; frozen processed fillets (e.g., breaded fillets). Plaice is of the most commonly eaten fish in Denmark, where it is popular as an open sandwich topping, and is also often used in the UK for fish and chips

Main markets: Popular throughout Europe; the UK and Denmark are the biggest consumers of plaice, followed by Sweden, France, and Spain

Fishing grounds: Throughout their range in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Most catches come from the North Sea (70% for plaice, 58% for sole)i in mixed fisheries for both species

European fleets*: Netherlands, Denmark, UK, France, Belgium, Iceland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, Greece, Ireland, Faeroe Islands, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Albania, Poland, Channel Islands, Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria

* in order of reported landings in 2004, largest to smallest; countries in bold together accounted for 80% of the total combined plaice and sole catch. Overall, plaice landings are 2.2 times higher than sole landings. Note that the proportion of landings differs dramatically between countries, and some only land plaice while others only land sole.

Fishing methods: Predominantly beam trawls; also otter trawls, purse seines, Danish seines, and gillnets

Current populations: Of the eight plaice stocks recognized by ICES, only one is considered to be harvested sustainably while three are overexploited. Data is insufficient to assess the remaining stocks; however, landings for all stocks are at or near historical lows. Of the nine sole stocks, seven are overfished with the status of the remaining two unknown.
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