Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

American Plaice - Flemish Cap
Fact Sheet Title  Fact Sheet
Stocks management recommendations 2023
American Plaice - Flemish Cap
Fact Sheet Citation  
American plaice in Div. 3M
Owned byNorthwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) – ownership
ident Blockident Blockdisplay tree map
Species List:
Species Ref: en - Amer. plaice(=Long rough dab), fr - Balai(=Plie canadienne), es - Platija americana, ar - هوشع كندي, zh - 拟庸鲽, ru - Камбала-ерш
ident Block American Plaice - Flemish Cap
Aq Res
Biological Stock: Yes         Value: Regional
Management unit: Yes        Reference year: 2022
Aq Res State Trend
Aq Res State Trend
Aq Res State Trend Aq Res State Trend
Aq Res State TrendNone-Low Fishing MortalityNo or low fishing mortalityRed
Aq Res State TrendDepleted Stock SizeDepleted

The stock has increased in recent years following two recruitment pulses in 2008-2012 and 2015-2018, and recovered to levels similar to the mid-1990s. However, recruitment has been poor since 2018 while relative F remains low.
Habitat Bio
Climatic Zone: Temperate.   Bottom Type: Unspecified.   Depth Zone: Slope - Deepslope (500 m - 1000 m).   Horizontal Dist: Oceanic.   Vertical Dist: Demersal/Benthic.  

Geo Dist
Geo Dist: High Seas Purely

Water Area Overview
Spatial Scale: Regional

Water Area Overview
Aq Res Struct
Biological Stock: Yes

American plaice is caught as bycatch in otter trawl fisheries, mainly the cod and redfish fisheries. From 1979 to 1993 a TAC of 2 000 tonnes was in effect for this stock. A reduction to 1 000 tonnes was agreed for 1994 and 1995 and a moratorium was agreed to thereafter.

Recent catch estimates and TACs (‘000 tonnes) are as follows:

Ecosystem sustainability of catches

3M American plaice is included in the benthivore guild of the Flemish Cap (3M) Ecosystem Production Unit (EPU). The other NAFO managed stock in this guild and EPU is 3M shrimp. The Catch/TCI is below the 2TCI ecosystem reference point (3M Benthivore Catch2022/TCI=0.01) indicating a low risk of ecosystem overfishing.
Bio Assess
Ref Point

No reference points have been defined.

Quantitative assessment of risk at various catch options is not possible at this time.
Assess Models
Analytical assessment

This assessment is based upon a qualitative evaluation of research vessel survey series and bycatch data from commercial fisheries.

The next full assessment is planned for 2026.

Fishing Mortality



Human impact

Mainly fishery related mortality. Other sources (e.g. pollution, shipping, oil-industry) are undocumented.

Biological and environmental interactions

The stock occurs mainly at depths shallower than 600 m on Flemish Cap. Main stomach contents are echinoderms, shrimp and hyperiids.

The Flemish Cap (3M) Ecosystem Production Unit (EPU) has not experienced sustained reductions in overall productivity observed in other EPUs. With the exception of a short-lived increase in 2005-2009, total EPU biomass has remained fairly stable over time despite the changes in individual stocks.
Management unit: Yes


Recommendation for 2024 - 2026

The stock has recovered to the levels of the mid 1990s, however, recruitment has been poor since 2018. SC considers that there is not sufficient supporting evidence that the stock would be able to sustain a fishery at this time and recommends that there be no directed fishing in 2024, 2025 and 2026. Bycatch should be kept at the lowest possible level.

No explicit management plan or management objectives defined by the Commission. Convention general principles are applied.

Stock definition for management purposes

The American plaice stock in Flemish Cap (Div. 3M) is considered to be a distinct population.
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Scientific Council Documents. SCR Doc. 23/003, 23/024, 20/39 and SCS Doc. 23/13, 22/13, 21/05, 21/09. Click to open
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). 2023. Report of the Scientific Council Meeting, 2 – 15 June, 2023. NAFO SCS Doc. 23/18. Click to open
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). 2008. Resolution on the Interpretation and Implementation of the Convention on the Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries. 30th Annual Meeting, September 2008. NAFO/GC Doc. 08/3. Click to open
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