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European plaice

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General

Flatfish

Flatfish belong to the order Pleuronectoformes. There are more than 500 species of flatfish. Flatfish live on and partly in the seabed, only the halibut swims higher up in the water column. Flatfish have an oblong, flat shape and their eyes on one side. The upper-side, the eye-side, of the flatfish has a camouflage colour and the underside is white. It may seem like flatfish swim on their belly, however, in fact, they are laying on their side. Flatfish larvae have a regular fish shape, with eyes on each side and a vertical swimming mode. After 6 weeks, one of the eyes migrates upwards, over the head to the other side. From now own, the flatfish swims with their eyes up and their blind side facing the seabed.

The best known flatfish species in the Netherlands are sole and plaice. Other flatfish species that occur in the North Sea are the common dab, halibut, turbot, brill, European flounder and lemon sole. Flatfish are caught with beam trawls, pulse trawls or demersal otter trawls.

 

European plaice

European Plaice is by far the most important flatfish species in the Dutch fisheries. Plaice is caught in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, in the coastal waters of Europe and in the western Mediterranean. Determination is easy because it has orange dots on its right side. The left side (blind side) is white. The large Dutch quotum guarantees a constant supply of fresh plaice. Plaice can reach a length of 1 m and a weight of 7 kg. The oldest registered plaice was 50 years old. On average they reach up to 50 cm, with a weight of 2-3 kg and an age of 15. The minimum landing size is 27 cm. Plaice from around Iceland is on average 35-40 cm and more than 5 years old.

European plaice

Pleuronectes platessa
Origin

North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat (FAO 27)

Farming- / Catch method

Scottish seining, Danish seine, Bottom otter trawl, Set longlines

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Explanation assessment

In 2019 several Danish and Dutch fisheries on European plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) were MSC certified within the ‘Joint Demersal Fishery‘. These fisheries fish in Skagerrak, Kattegat and the North Sea. They use miscellaneous gear to fish for plaice, otter trawls, Scottish and Danish seines, longlines and the controversial beam trawl.

Please note: Good Fish does not recommend the MSC beam trawl plaice

Fisheries that target sole and plaice use several types of bottom trawls, with varying impact on the seafloor and different ranges of CO2 emissions. The least sustainable gear is the beam trawl. Good Fish is critical towards the certification of the beam trawl. The recommendation for sole and plaice, caught with the beam trawl, has a RED rating on our seafood guide. We advice supermarkets and consumers to avoid this fish.

European plaice

Pleuronectes platessa
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)
Deelgebieden: Skagerrak and Kattegat

Farming- / Catch method

Danish seine

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

European plaice is doing well in the North Sea. The stock of plaice is above the safe biological limits.

Danish seine is considered to be a [selective fishing method] with little bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
of [undersized fish]. Bycatch is generally [landed]. There is incidental bycatch of sharks and rays. These species are vulnerable to overfishingOverfishing:
There is so much fish caught that the size of the stock has diminished so far that it can no longer produce a maximum sustainable yield. The size of the fish populations is insufficient to reproduce in the long term. 
and are under pressure in European waters. The extent to which this fishery contributes to this has not been investigated.

The management of this fishery level is done at EU-level and a [long-term management plan] for sole and plaice has been adopted. This plan is positive for plaice.

European plaice

Pleuronectes platessa
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)
Deelgebieden: Skagerrak and Kattegat

Farming- / Catch method

Bottom otter trawl

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

European plaice is doing well in the North Sea. The stock of plaice is above the safe biological limits.

Twinrig fishery with large mesh sizes is reasonably selective. There is little bycatch of [undersized fish], but many other species of flatfish are caught. If there is a quota for these species, than the bycatch is landed. Twinrigs disturb the bottom life, but a bit less than the beam trawl.

The management of this fishery level is done at EU-level and a [long-term management plan] for sole and plaice has been adopted. This plan is positive for plaice. A group of twinriggers in the northern North Sea has meanwhile been MSC-certifiedMSC Certified:
Fisheries that comply with the Marine Stewardship Council assessment criteria and are certified. Fish products with the blue MSC label are caught by sustainable fisheries.
. There are however no structural measures to limit the environmental effects.

 

European plaice

Pleuronectes platessa
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)

Farming- / Catch method

Electric pulse fishing

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

European plaice is doing well in the North Sea. The stock of plaice is above the safe biological limits.

A [pulse trawl] is a more selective method than the traditional [beam trawl], but bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
is still high and so are the discards. The survivability of these discards is low.

A pulse trawl also has less impactful effects on the seabed than a beam trawl. The effects of the electric pulses on vulnerable species, like rays, are however not fully known.

The management of this fishery level is done at EU-level and a [long-term management plan] for sole and plaice has been adopted. This plan is positive for plaice.

There are measures needed to limit the bycatch and environmental effects.

European plaice

Pleuronectes platessa
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)
Deelgebieden: Skagerrak and Kattegat

Farming- / Catch method

Beam trawl

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

European plaice is doing well in the North sea. The stock reached a record level in 2013 and is above the MSYMSY:
Theoretically the greatest possible 'safe' catch, in which fish populations have sufficient size to reproduce in the long term.  
level. Fishermen are therefore again allowed to catch more plaice. There are however measures needed to limit the bycatch and environmental effects.

In this mixed flatfish fishery a small mesh size is used, which causes a lot of bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
of young [undersized fish]. A large part of the bycatch is discarded, but the survivability of these discards is low.

Fishing with a [beam trawl] touches the seabed and disturbs the bottom life. Intensive fishing with the beam trawl leads on the long term to a change in the [species composition] in sea.

The management of this fishery level is done at EU-level and a [long-term management plan] for sole and plaice has been adopted. This plan is positive for plaice.

ASC label

Fish with the ASC label is farmed in a sustainable manner.

MSC label

Fish with the MSC label is caught sustainably.

Good fish

This fish is not being overfished or is being responsibly farmed, with minimal impact on the environment.

Second choice

This fish is a second choice. There are still some improvements to be made in this fishery or fish farm.

Avoid

Do not buy this fish. It's being overfished or the way it's farmed or caught has a negative impact on the environment.

By-catch

This fish is unwillingly caught while fishing for a different species. They are underused and should be eaten more.

GlobalG.A.P.

GlobalG.A.P. certified farms are doing a step in the right direction in terms of sustainability. A few species with this label are getting a better score on the VISwijzer.

Organic

Organic standards are the strictest when it comes to fish feed. They also require certain measures for animal well-being.