SOLE GROUP PAGE

From Alaska to California, U.S. fishermen harvest several varieties of this delicate mild-tasting flatfish. The Pacific soles are not true soles, which are found only in the Atlantic, and are more closely related to flounder.

Dover sole

Dover sole

Since World War II, Dover sole has been harvested along the West Coast by trawlers over the sandy, muddy bottoms along the coast of Oregon, California, and Washington. Since groundfish are often caught together, harvests of more abundant species such as Dover sole have been limited in order to rebuild the species that are still overfished. In early 2011, managers implemented a catch share program for the West Coast groundfish trawl fishery to help address this issue.

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English sole

English sole

English sole has been harvested along the West Coast since the late 1800s. Today, most U.S.-caught English sole is harvested by trawlers over the sandy, muddy bottoms along Oregon, California, and Washington. Along the West Coast, English sole populations have been increasing rapidly in the last decade, thanks to successful reproduction and survival from 1998-2002, and are well above target population levels.

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Flathead sole

Flathead sole

Larger than many of the other Pacific soles, flathead soles have firm white meat and thicker fillets, and they most closely resemble the true European sole. Alaska fishermen catch almost all of the commercial harvest of this fish, but a very small amount is also harvested along the West Coast, mainly off the coast of Oregon. Scientists actively monitor the abundance of flathead sole, and managers use the latest abundance estimates to set sustainable harvest limits for the next fishing season.

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Petrale sole

Petrale sole

With a fine texture and a sweet, delicate flavor, petrale sole is the highest valued flatfish on the West Coast. Declared overfished in 2009, the West Coast petrale sole stock is now rebuilding under strict harvest limits. Due to responsible management of the fishery, along with above-average reproduction and survival rates in the past few years, this valuable fish is on target to be fully rebuilt in 2013.

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Rex sole

Rex Sole

Rex sole is not a true sole, which are only found in the Atlantic, and are more closely related to flounder. It is enjoyed by consumers for its sweet distinctive taste. Rex sole have been caught for decades in commercial groundfish fisheries from California to the Bering Sea. However, it is not often a target species for fishermen on the West Coast because it can be widely distributed and found at great depths.

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Rock sole

Rock sole

Two species of rock sole—northern and southern—are harvested in U.S. waters of the North Pacific. The population was once heavily fished by foreign fleets in the 1960s, but has now recovered well above target population levels. Along with yellowfin sole, the rock sole fisheries along the Alaskan coastline are the largest flatfish fisheries in the United States.

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Yellowfin sole

Yellowfin sole

This is the most abundant flatfish species in the eastern Bering Sea and the target of the largest flatfish fishery in the world. Alaska is responsible for the majority of the worldwide yellowfin sole catch, harvesting more than 150,000 metric tons in 2011. While out at sea, fishermen usually remove the head, gut, and freeze the fish whole, and then ship it to Asian countries to be further processed. The fillets of this delicate, mild-tasting fish are often re-exported back to the United States.

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