Illustration of Flounder

Flounder

Filters

Seafood Variety

Harvest Method

Regions

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Arrowtooth flounder

Atheresthes stomia

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Alaska, California, Washington, Oregon

Overall Rating

3.1 - 3.5 / 5

Summary

Groundfish in Alaska are caught as part of a multi-species fishery. Much information is available on stock status, and data indicates that populations are healthy. The groundfish are fished at a sustainable rate.

Management of a multi-species fishery can be challenging. However in this case, management is excellent as regular stock-assessments are performed with up-to-date assessments available, and regulations exist regarding biological reference points, harvest control rules, and incorporation of uncertainty when determining catch limits.

Some non-targeted species caught in the Alaskan groundfish fishery include: steller sea lions, giant grenadiers, killer whales, starry flounders, tanner crabs, snow crabs, Pacific sleeper sharks, longnose skates, spiny dogfish, northern fulmar, atka mackerel, sharpchin rockfish, harlequin rockfish, black-footed albatross, laysan albatross, and Pacific halibut. Amongst these species include those whose stock status is of concern, whose inherent vulnerability to fishing pressure is high, or whose fishing mortality rates are high.

Bottom trawls have the potential to cause large amounts of habitat damage due to the fact that they drag across the ocean floor. Although longlines, pots, and jigs are immobile gear types, they nevertheless make contact with the ocean floor and have the potential to cause damage. In order to mitigate these impacts, a number of regulations including spatial restrictions are in place.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Arrowtooth flounder

Atheresthes stomia

Method

Wild

Midwater trawl

Location

British Columbia

Overall Rating

2.9 / 5

Summary

Groundfish in British Columbia are caught as part of a multi-species fishery. Out of the 68 species/gear combinations, 16 were found to be sustainable. In 2012, BC landed $104.2 million worth of non-hake groundfish. Pacific halibut, sablefish and rockfish account for 83% of the value of the landings. A large proportion of the groundfish are exported to countries including the US, Japan, the UK and Russia.

Management of BC groundfish is moderately effective as management measures such as reference points and harvest control rules exist. However these measures are not applied to all stocks, and are not always supported by scientific research. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (COSEWIC) has identified several groundfish of threatened status, although recovery of these species is challenging given limited data. Fisheries officers are highly effective in enforcing management regulations such as total allowable catch. Vessels are monitored with 100% at-sea, 100% dockside and 100% observer coverage. According to recent stock assessment updates, the population health and fishing mortality of many BC groundfish is healthy (although some BC groundfish are still lacking up-to-date stock assessments).

Non-targeted species caught in the BC Groundfish fishery include: bocaccio rockfish, green sturgeon, redstripe rockfish, soupfin shark, sharpchin rockfish, splitnose rockfish, spotted ratfish, sixgill shark, steller sea lion, Pacific halibut, giant grenadier, Pacific grenadier and flathead sole. Amongst these species include those whose stock status is of concern, whose inherent vulnerability to fishing pressure is high, or whose fishing mortality rates are high.

Bottom trawls have the potential to cause large amounts of habitat damage due to the fact that they drag across the ocean floor. Many of the species targeted by the BC groundfish fishery are found in areas of hard substrate which are more susceptible to damage than areas of soft substrate. In order to mitigate habitat damage, a number of regulations including spatial regulations are in place. For example, no commercial fishing activities are allowed in Rockfish Conservation Areas. Bottom trawls are prohibited in areas where sponge reefs exist. In 2012, additional measures were imposed in order to protect corals and sponges. Recently, trawl vessels have been equipped with midwater trawls. Midwater trawls cause minimal habitat damage as they do not usually make contact with the ocean floor.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Starry flounder

Platichthys stellatus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

California

Overall Rating

3.4 / 5

Summary

Groundfish in the US are caught as part of a multi-species fishery. Rockfish landings reached historically low levels in the early 2000’s. Recently, management has rebuilt the overfished stocks and 6 stocks are classified as rebuilding. In 2009, the value of the fishery was $66.1 million. Rockfish are distributed throughout the west coast, and sablefish are mostly exported to Japan.

Management of a multi-species fishery can be challenging. However in this case, management is strong, as regular stock-assessments are performed, and regulations exist regarding biological reference points, harvest control rules, and incorporation of uncertainty when determining catch limits. In 2011, individual fishing quotas (IFQs) were established which requires 100% at-sea and dockside monitoring. Recent improvements in information availability on groundfish stocks have shown a general trend of increasing abundance and rebuilding stocks.

Some non-targeted species caught in the US Groundfish fishery include: Bocaccio rockfish, yelloweye rockfish, greenstriped rockfish, cowcod rockfish, spotted ratfish, darkblotched rockfish, shortbelly rockfish, splitnose rockfish, yellowtail rockfish, California sheephead, China rockfish, giant grenadier, black-footed albatross, big skate and California skate. Amongst these species include those whose stock status is of concern, whose inherent vulnerability to fishing pressure is high, or whose fishing mortality rates are high.

Bottom trawls have the potential to cause large amounts of habitat damage due to the fact that they drag across the ocean floor. In order to mitigate these impacts, a number of regulations including spatial restrictions are in place. For example, groundfish bottom trawling is prohibited in 25% of Essential Fish Habitat in waters shallower than 700 fathoms. The targeted groundfish are not classified as species of exceptional ecological importance, and a fishery ecosystem plan is currently being developed for the fishery.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

California flounder

Paralichthys californicus

Method

Wild

Troll

Location

Southern California, Central California

Overall Rating

3.5-4.1 / 5

Summary

California halibut are found from Washington to Baja California Sur, Mexico, but are most common south of Bodega Bay, California. Stock assessments have identified two distinct stocks: a southern and central stock. Both stocks are thought to have stable biomass and fishing mortality is below maximum sustainable yield (MSY). The troll line fishery is highly selective with minimal bycatch (<5%) and fishermen are able to release unwanted catch alive.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Kamchatka flounder

Atheresthes evermanni

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Alaska

Overall Rating

3.4 / 5

Summary

Groundfish in Alaska are caught as part of a multi-species fishery. Much information is available on stock status, and data indicates that populations are healthy. The groundfish are fished at a sustainable rate.

Management of a multi-species fishery can be challenging. However in this case, management is excellent as regular stock-assessments are performed with up-to-date assessments available, and regulations exist regarding biological reference points, harvest control rules, and incorporation of uncertainty when determining catch limits.

Some non-targeted species caught in the Alaskan groundfish fishery include: steller sea lions, giant grenadiers, killer whales, starry flounders, tanner crabs, snow crabs, Pacific sleeper sharks, longnose skates, spiny dogfish, northern fulmar, atka mackerel, sharpchin rockfish, harlequin rockfish, black-footed albatross, laysan albatross, and Pacific halibut. Amongst these species include those whose stock status is of concern, whose inherent vulnerability to fishing pressure is high, or whose fishing mortality rates are high.

Bottom trawls have the potential to cause large amounts of habitat damage due to the fact that they drag across the ocean floor. Although longlines, pots, and jigs are immobile gear types, they nevertheless make contact with the ocean floor and have the potential to cause damage. In order to mitigate these impacts, a number of regulations including spatial restrictions are in place.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Flatfish - Gulf of Alaska

Variety

Northern rock sole

Lepidopsetta polyxystra

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Gulf of Alaska

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Flatfish - Gulf of Alaska

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Flatfish - Gulf of Alaska

Variety

Arrowtooth flounder

Atheresthes stomias

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Gulf of Alaska

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Flatfish - Gulf of Alaska

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Variety

Kamchatka flounder

Atheresthes evermanni

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Flatfish - Gulf of Alaska

Variety

Flathead sole

Hippoglossoides elassodon

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Gulf of Alaska

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Flatfish - Gulf of Alaska

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Variety

Alaska Plaice

Pleuronectes quadrituberculatus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Arrowtooth flounder

Atheresthes stomias

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Variety

Flathead sole

Hippoglossoides elassodon

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Variety

Arrowtooth flounder

Atheresthes stomias

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Variety

Yellowfin sole

Limanda aspera

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Variety

Northern rock sole

Lepidopsetta polyxystra

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Flatfish - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Longnose Skates

Raja rhina

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Yellowtail rockfish

Sebastes flavidus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Sablefish

Anoplopoma fimbria

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Widow rockfish

Sebastes entomelas

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Splitnose rockfish

Sebastes diploproa

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Kyoto Danish Seine Fishery Federation flathead flounder

Variety

Flathead flounder

Hippoglossoides dubius

Method

Wild

Danish seine

Location

Sea of Japan

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Kyoto Danish Seine Fishery Federation flathead flounder

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - OCI Grand Bank Yellowtail flounder trawl

Variety

Yellowtail flounder

Limanda ferruginea

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Grand Banks

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
OCI Grand Bank Yellowtail flounder trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Shortspine thornyheads

Sebastolobus alascanus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Longspine Thornyheads

Sebastolobus altivelis

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Daover sole

Microstomus pacificus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Flatfish - Gulf of Alaska

Variety

Rex sole

Glyptocephalus zachirus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Gulf of Alaska

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Flatfish - Gulf of Alaska

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Chilipepper rockfish

Sebastes goodei

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Lingcod

Ophiodon elongatus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

Petrale sole

Eopsetta jordani

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Variety

English sole

Parophrys vetulus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Various

Location

Washington, Oregon, California

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
US West Coast limited entry groundfish trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Flatfish - Gulf of Alaska

Variety

Southern Rock sole

Lepidopsetta bilineata

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Gulf of Alaska

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Flatfish - Gulf of Alaska

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Yellowtail flounder

Limanda ferruginea

Method

Wild

Bottom gillnet, Bottom trawl

Location

Atlantic US – Georges Bank, New England, Cape Cod, Gulf of Maine, Mid Atlantic

Overall Rating

1.8 - 2.0 / 5

Summary

During the early 1900’s, industrialization and improvements in fishing techniques facilitated the exploitation of the summer flounder population. Consumer demand increased with time, with overfishing continuing well into the 1960’s. Peak fishing pressure occurred in the 1990’s. The summer flounder is now caught both commercially and recreationally.

The use of otter trawls has a significant impact on the bycatch of Atlantic white-sided dolphins; a species which is already overfished and whose low population numbers are of concern. Otter trawls are also a main cause of mortality for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. Otter trawls have the potential to severely damage the habitat by increasing the turbidity in the water, smoothing the substrate, causing mortality or injuries to species, and by destroying the habitat. The effects of removing American plaice from the ecosystem are not well understood.

Although management has at times been poor in the past, recent modifications to regulations have established stricter limits on catches. This new management regime is considered to be moderately effective. Management plans to minimize bycatch exist, and these regulations are effective for the summer flounder fishery. The summer flounder was historically overfished, but has since rebuilt, and the population is now at a healthy level.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Summer flounder, Lemon sole

Paralichthys dentatus, various

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Atlantic US – New England

Overall Rating

2.1 - 2.6 / 5

Summary

During the early 1900’s, industrialization and improvements in fishing techniques facilitated the exploitation of the summer flounder population. Consumer demand increased with time, with overfishing continuing well into the 1960’s. Peak fishing pressure occurred in the 1990’s. The summer flounder is now caught both commercially and recreationally.

The use of otter trawls has a significant impact on the bycatch of Atlantic white-sided dolphins; a species which is already overfished and whose low population numbers are of concern. Otter trawls are also a main cause of mortality for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. Otter trawls have the potential to severely damage the habitat by increasing the turbidity in the water, smoothing the substrate, causing mortality or injuries to species, and by destroying the habitat. The effects of removing American plaice from the ecosystem are not well understood.

Although management has at times been poor in the past, recent modifications to regulations have established stricter limits on catches. This new management regime is considered to be moderately effective. Management plans to minimize bycatch exist, and these regulations are effective for the summer flounder fishery. The summer flounder was historically overfished, but has since rebuilt, and the population is now at a healthy level.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Windowpane flounder

Scophthalmus aquosus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Atlantic US – Mid-Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, New England

Overall Rating

2.0 - 2.6 / 5

Summary

During the early 1900’s, industrialization and improvements in fishing techniques facilitated the exploitation of the summer flounder population. Consumer demand increased with time, with overfishing continuing well into the 1960’s. Peak fishing pressure occurred in the 1990’s. The summer flounder is now caught both commercially and recreationally.

The use of otter trawls has a significant impact on the bycatch of Atlantic white-sided dolphins; a species which is already overfished and whose low population numbers are of concern. Otter trawls are also a main cause of mortality for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. Otter trawls have the potential to severely damage the habitat by increasing the turbidity in the water, smoothing the substrate, causing mortality or injuries to species, and by destroying the habitat. The effects of removing American plaice from the ecosystem are not well understood.

Although management has at times been poor in the past, recent modifications to regulations have established stricter limits on catches. This new management regime is considered to be moderately effective. Management plans to minimize bycatch exist, and these regulations are effective for the summer flounder fishery. The summer flounder was historically overfished, but has since rebuilt, and the population is now at a healthy level.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Winter flounder; blackback flounder

Pseudopleuronectes americanus

Method

Wild

Bottom gillnet, Bottom trawl

Location

Atlantic US (Georges Bank and Southern New England)

Overall Rating

2.0 - 2.5 / 5

Summary

During the early 1900’s, industrialization and improvements in fishing techniques facilitated the exploitation of the summer flounder population. Consumer demand increased with time, with overfishing continuing well into the 1960’s. Peak fishing pressure occurred in the 1990’s. The summer flounder is now caught both commercially and recreationally.

The use of otter trawls has a significant impact on the bycatch of Atlantic white-sided dolphins; a species which is already overfished and whose low population numbers are of concern. Otter trawls are also a main cause of mortality for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. Otter trawls have the potential to severely damage the habitat by increasing the turbidity in the water, smoothing the substrate, causing mortality or injuries to species, and by destroying the habitat. The effects of removing American plaice from the ecosystem are not well understood.

Although management has at times been poor in the past, recent modifications to regulations have established stricter limits on catches. This new management regime is considered to be moderately effective. Management plans to minimize bycatch exist, and these regulations are effective for the summer flounder fishery. The summer flounder was historically overfished, but has since rebuilt, and the population is now at a healthy level.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

California flounder

Paralichthys californicus

Method

Wild

Bottom gillnet, Bottom trawl

Location

Southern and Central California

Overall Rating

2.4-2.6 / 5

Summary

California halibut are found from Washington to Baja California Sur, Mexico, but are most common south of Bodega Bay, California. Stock assessments have identified two distinct stocks: a southern and central stock. Both stocks are thought to have stable biomass and fishing mortality is below maximum sustainable yield (MSY). However, fisheries management is thought to be moderately effective as the fishery lacks reference points. There are bycatch concerns with white sharks in the gillnet fishery, and green sturgeon and big skate in the bottom trawl fishery. Concerns also exist with the impacts of bottom trawls on the seafloor.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Witch flounder

Glyptocephalus cynoglossus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Atlantic US – New England, Mid Atlantic

Overall Rating

1.8 - 2.0 / 5

Summary

During the early 1900’s, industrialization and improvements in fishing techniques facilitated the exploitation of the summer flounder population. Consumer demand increased with time, with overfishing continuing well into the 1960’s. Peak fishing pressure occurred in the 1990’s. The summer flounder is now caught both commercially and recreationally.

The use of otter trawls has a significant impact on the bycatch of Atlantic white-sided dolphins; a species which is already overfished and whose low population numbers are of concern. Otter trawls are also a main cause of mortality for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. Otter trawls have the potential to severely damage the habitat by increasing the turbidity in the water, smoothing the substrate, causing mortality or injuries to species, and by destroying the habitat. The effects of removing American plaice from the ecosystem are not well understood.

Although management has at times been poor in the past, recent modifications to regulations have established stricter limits on catches. This new management regime is considered to be moderately effective. Management plans to minimize bycatch exist, and these regulations are effective for the summer flounder fishery. The summer flounder was historically overfished, but has since rebuilt, and the population is now at a healthy level.

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Variety

Winter flounder; blackback flounder

Pseudopleuronectes americanus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Atlantic Canada

Overall Rating

2.1 / 5

Summary

Winter flounder are fished as part of the groundfish fishery in the Maritimes region. Bottom trawls consist of more than 99% of the catch. During the 1990’s, catches of flatfish including winter flounder, were approximately 12,000-13,000 mt. Catches have since declined. In 2014, 1,964 mt of flatfish were landed. Winter flounder accounts for the majority of the flatfish catch in Canadian Maritimes.

Winter flounder are managed as part of a mixed-species groundfish fishery by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Regulations include catch limits, gear restrictions, reporting requirement, catch verification, area and seasonal closures, and bycatch protocols. Management is moderately effective and could be improved by defining abundance and fishing targets, and by managing bycatch species of concern. The stock status of the winter flounder in the Canadian Maritimes is currently unknown due to a lack of stock assessments. Fishing mortality is unknown, although management regulations impose limits on catch.

Bottom trawls are a non-selective gear type. The bottom trawl fishery for winter flounder causes the bycatch of Atlantic cod, haddock, and other flatfish. The bycatch of Atlantic cod is of concern as it is an endangered species whose fishing mortality is too high. Other species of concern such as skates and wolffish may be impacted by the winter flounder trawl fishery.

Bottom trawls could potentially damage the habitat by increasing the turbidity in the water, smoothing the substrate, causing mortality or injuries to species, and by destroying the habitat. The negative effects of this fishery on the habitat are moderate to high. The removal of winter flounder from the ecosystem is not thought to have large effects.

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Variety

Arrowtooth flounder

Atheresthes stomia

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

British Columbia

Overall Rating

2.7 / 5

Summary

Groundfish in British Columbia are caught as part of a multi-species fishery. Out of the 60 species/gear combinations, 8 were found to be sustainable: lingcod caught by bottom longline and jig, big skate caught by bottom longline and bottom trawl, sablefish caught by bottom longline and bottom trawl, petrale sole caught by bottom trawl, and English sole caught by bottom trawl. These species are covered in separate reports. In 2012, BC landed $104.2 million worth of non-hake groundfish. Pacific halibut, sablefish and rockfish account for 83% of the value of the landings. A large proportion of the groundfish are exported to countries including the US, Japan, the UK and Russia.

Management of BC groundfish is moderately effective as management measures such as reference points and harvest control rules exist. However these measures are not applied to all stocks, and are not always supported by scientific research. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (COSEWIC) has identified several groundfish of threatened status, although recovery of these species is challenging given limited data. Fisheries officers are highly effective in enforcing management regulations such as total allowable catch. Vessels are monitored with 100% at-sea, 100% dockside and 100% observer coverage. The population health and fishing mortality of many BC groundfish is unknown or uncertain due to a lack of stock assessments, or out-of-date assessments. This uncertainty in population status is a concern.

Non-targeted species caught in the BC Groundfish fishery include: bocaccio rockfish, green sturgeon, redstripe rockfish, soupfin shark, sharpchin rockfish, splitnose rockfish, spotted ratfish, sixgill shark, steller sea lion, Pacific halibut, giant grenadier, Pacific grenadier and flathead sole. Amongst these species include those whose stock status is of concern, whose inherent vulnerability to fishing pressure is high, or whose fishing mortality rates are high.

Bottom trawls have the potential to cause large amounts of habitat damage due to the fact that they drag across the ocean floor. Many of the species targeted by the BC groundfish fishery are found in areas of hard substrate which are more susceptible to damage than areas of soft substrate. In order to mitigate habitat damage, a number of regulations including spatial regulations are in place. For example, no commercial fishing activities are allowed in Rockfish Conservation Areas. Bottom trawls are prohibited in areas where sponge reefs exist. In 2012, additional measures were imposed in order to protect corals and sponges.

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