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Yellowfin Sole

Limanda aspera

Yellowfin Sole

Also Known As

  • Sole
  • Flounder

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

Population

Above target population levels.

Fishing Rate

At recommended levels.

Habitat Impacts

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

Bycatch

Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.

  • Availability

    Year-round.

  • Source

    U.S. wild-caught from Alaska.  

  • Taste

    Mild, sweet flavor. 

  • Texture

    Firm and delicate with small flakes.

  • Color

    Meat is cream colored. 

  • Health Benefits

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

The U.S. Fishery

Fishery Management

Harvest

  • In 2015, commercial landings of yellowfin sole totaled more than 271 million pounds, and were valued at more than $34 million.
  • Gear types, habitat impacts, and bycatch:
    • Bottom trawls are used to catch yellowfin sole.
    • Trawls that are used to harvest yellowfin sole can contact the ocean floor and impact habitats, depending on the makeup of the ocean bottom and the size of the gear.
    • Bottom trawls cause minimal damage to habitat when targeting yellowfin sole over soft, sandy, or muddy ocean bottoms in Alaska.
    • NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council have implemented large closed areas to protect sensitive habitats from bottom trawls.
    • Vessel monitoring systems allow enforcement staff and fishery managers to monitor GPS locations of fishing activities to ensure vessels are complying with closed areas.
    • There are limits on the amount of halibut and crab that groundfish fisheries can incidentally catch. If the limit is reached, managers close the fishery for the remainder of the season to minimize bycatch. 

The Science

Population Status

  • According to the 2017 stock assessment, yellowfin sole in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands are not overfished and are not subject to overfishing.
  • In the Gulf of Alaska, yellowfin sole are part of the “shallow water flatfish complex.” According to the 2017 stock assessment, this complex is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing.

Location

  • In the United States, yellowfin sole are found in the North Pacific Ocean from British Columbia up to the Chukchi Sea (north of the Bering Sea).

Habitat

  • Yellowfin sole live on soft, sandy ocean bottoms on the eastern Bering Sea Shelf. 

Physical Description

  • Yellowfin sole are a flatfish with a small mouth and moderately large eyes that are both on one side of their body.
  • Their body shape is generally round with rounded edges on the tail fin.
  • Their upper side is olive to dark brown with dark mottling, and their underside is pale. 
  • Yellowfin sole are named for their yellowish fins. Their fins also have faint dark bars and a narrow dark line at their base.
  • Their anal spine is thin, sharp, and exposed. 
  • They have rough scales on both sides of the body.

Biology

  • Yellowfin sole grow up to more than 1½ feet long and can live up to 39 years.
  • Most females are able to reproduce when they reach 10½ years old, or when they’re about 1 foot long.
  • They spawn in the spring and summer in shallow waters on the inner continental shelf. Females produce between 1 and 3 million eggs.
  • Larvae and early juveniles eat plankton and algae. Late juveniles and adults eat bivalves, worms, amphipods, mollusks, krill, shrimp, brittle stars, sculpins, and other crustaceans. 
  • Pacific cod and halibut prey on juvenile yellowfin sole. 

Last updated: 09/20/2018