Hastings fleet Dover sole
Certified as sustainable on 9th July 2009
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Species: Dover sole (Solea solea L.)
Location: Eastern English Channel (ICES Division VIId) specifically between Beachy Head and Dungeness and offshore to the six mile limit.
Fishing methods: Demersal trawl, gill-net & trammel net.
Vessels: Currently 29 (2008) with a maximum number of 43 vessels.
Number of fisheries: 1
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More about Dover sole
Dover sole has a preference for relatively shallow water with sand or mud covering the bottom. As temperatures fall in the autumn and winter they migrate out into deeper, warmer water. They have small eyes close to each other on the right-hand side of the body. This enables the fish to lurk half-buried in the sand and watch for passing prey.
More about the fishing methods
The Hastings-based fleet is very versatile and uses a number of different gears and targets different species at different times of the year. The gears covered by this certification are the trawl and the gill net. The minimum mesh size permitted for the sole trawl net fishery is 80mm and for the Gill nets 90mm.
The trawl net used by the Hastings vessels is light and designed for use on soft ground. The ground rope is made up either of light chain wrapped in sacking or a series of four inch diameter rubber bobbins with light chain between them. Impact with the sea bed is light and reported catches of benthic species are low. These consist mainly of starfish which are returned to the sea alive. There are just a few floats on the headline producing a low headline height of about 1.5m to reduce the potential for taking unwanted by-catch species such as cod and whiting. On some vessels the trawls may be double or triple rigged to increase the area of sea bed swept during a tow. Although the minimum mesh size is 80mm the Hastings fleet tend to use mesh of 85/87mm in order to reduce the potential for catching undersized sole.
The gill net consists of just a single layer of net with a minimum mesh size of 90mm although a mesh size of 100mm is normally preferred by the Hastings fleet. The top of the net is set lower in the water compared to the Trammel net in order to reduce the by-catch of unwanted species in particular cod.
Currently much of the fish (Solea solea) is exported to France but the intent is to further develop local UK markets.