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Petrale Sole

Eopsetta jordani

Illustration of a petrale sole

Also Known As

  • Sole
  • Flounder
  • California sole
  • Brill
  • Petral
  • Jordan’s flounder
  • Round-nosed sole

U.S. wild-caught petrale sole is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.

Population

Above target population levels on the West Coast and in the Gulf of Alaska. The population status is unknown in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands.

Fishing Rate

At recommended levels.

Habitat Impacts

Area closures and gear restrictions protect habitats that are affected by bottom trawls used to harvest petrale sole.

Bycatch

Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.

  • Availability

    Year-round.

  • Source

    U.S. wild-caught from Washington to California.

  • Taste

    Sweet, delicate, nutty flavor.

  • Texture

    Fine. 

  • Health Benefits

    Petrale sole is an excellent source of low-fat protein and calcium.

The U.S. Fishery

Fishery Management

  • NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the petrale sole fishery on the West Coast.
  • Managed under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan:
    • Limits on the number of permits and fishermen allowed.
    • Limits on the minimum size of fish that may be harvested.
    • Limit on how much may be harvested in one fishing trip.
    • Certain seasons and areas are closed to fishing.
    • Gear restrictions help reduce bycatch and impacts on habitat.
    • A trawl rationalization catch share program includes:
      • Catch limits based on population information for each fish stock and divided into shares that are allocated to individual fishermen or groups.
      • These fishermen can decide how and when to catch their share – preferably when weather, markets, and business conditions are most favorable, allowing the fishery the flexibility to be more environmentally responsible, safer, more efficient, and more valuable.
  • NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the petrale sole fishery in Alaska.
  • Managed under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska, and the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands:
    • There is no directed fishery for this species off Alaska, and only minor amounts are landed incidentally in other fisheries.

Harvest

  • In 2016, commercial landings of petrale sole totaled more than 5.8 million pounds and were valued at more than $7 million.
  • Gear types, habitat impacts, and bycatch:
    • Bottom trawls are used to catch petrale sole.
    • Trawls that are used to harvest petrale sole can contact the ocean floor and impact habitats, depending on the characteristics of the ocean bottom and the size of the gear.
    • Bottom trawls cause minimal damage to habitat when targeting petrale sole over soft, sandy, or muddy ocean bottoms on the West Coast and Alaska.
    • On the West Coast, NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council have implemented large closed areas to minimize bycatch and protect habitat.
    • Vessel monitoring systems allow enforcement staff and fishery managers to monitor GPS locations of fishing activities to ensure vessels are complying with closed areas.

The Science

Population Status

  • According to the 2015 stock assessment petrale sole on the West Coast are not overfished.
    • This population was declared overfished in 2009, and after a rebuilding plan and strict harvest limits were put in place, the stock was declared rebuilt in 2015.
  • On the West Coast, petrale sole is not subject to overfishing based on 2016 catch data.
  • In the Gulf of Alaska, petrale sole is part of a complex with other flatfish, called the “shallow water flatfish complex”:
    • According to the 2017 assessment, this complex is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing.
  • In the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands, petrale sole is part of a complex with other flatfish, called the “other flatfish complex”:
    • This complex was last assessed in 2017, but data were insufficient to determine whether the complex is overfished.
    • An overfishing level is set for the complex and, as long as this level is not exceeded, the complex is not subject to overfishing. The complex is not subject to overfishing.

Location

  • Petrale sole are found from Alaska to Coronado Island, Baja California.
  • They are rare north and west of southeast Alaska and in the interior waters of British Columbia.

Habitat

  • Petrale sole are common on the outer continental shelf in water 330 to 500 feet deep, but can be found in depths ranging from 50 to 1,370 feet.
  • Adults migrate seasonally from deep water where they spawn to shallow water where they feed in the summer.
  • Eggs and larvae are found in surface waters, and juveniles and adults live on sandy and muddy bottoms.

Physical Description

  • Petrale sole is a right-eyed flounder (both eyes are on its right side), with an oval to round body.
  • Its upper side is uniform light to dark brown, and its underside is white, sometimes with pink traces.
  • Petrale sole have large mouths, with two rows of small, arrow-shaped teeth on their upper jaw and one row of teeth on the lower jaw.

Biology

  • Petrale sole grow fast when they’re young, and females tend to grow faster than males.
  • Females can reach up to 24 inches long, while males may reach up to 18 inches long.
  • They can live up to 35 years, but recent data suggests few live longer than 17 years.
  • Petrale sole can reproduce when they are 3 to 8 years old, or when they’re about 1 foot long. Females can produce 400,000 to 1.5 million eggs.
  • They spawn from November to April in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Spawning begins slightly earlier in California.
  • Petrale sole is a broadcast spawner. Males and females release their sperm and eggs into the water column and eggs are fertilized externally.
  • Eggs hatch in 6 to 13.5 days, depending on water temperatures.
  • Petrale sole larvae spend their first 5 to 6 months up in the water column before they transform to their adult form and settle to the bottom.
  • Petrale sole larvae eat plankton. Small juveniles eat mysids, sculpins, and other juvenile flatfish. Large juveniles and adults eat shrimp and other crustaceans, as well as krill, pelagic fishes, brittle stars, and juvenile petrale sole.
  • Plankton-eating invertebrates and pelagic fishes eat petrale sole eggs. Adult petrale sole and other large flatfishes prey on juvenile petrale sole.
  • Sharks, bottom-feeding marine mammals, larger flatfishes, and pelagic fishes feed on adults.

Last updated: 09/20/2018