Petrale Sole

Petrale Sole
Common Name Petrale Sole
Market Name California sole, brill, petral
Scientific name Eopsetta jordani

Sourcing Summary

Size

1-2 ft.

Petrale is a round or oval-shaped flounder with a big mouth and both eyes on its right side; the blind side is white and the eyed side is light to dark brown. Flatfish quality varies widely so the best ones will have uniform color and no bruising, according to some buyers. Petrale sole is sold fresh and frozen, whole and in skinless fillets. Petrale sole is an excellent source of low-fat protein, calcium, and other nutrients. The best time to buy petrale is in the winter, when prices are the lowest. Since larger flatfish sell for a premium, smaller fillets can be a good value, according to some buyers.

Based on average landings of petrale sole from 2012-2015 and using the most recent 2014 and 2016 Seafood Watch ratings and 2014 MSC certification, the sustainability breakdown of petrale sole is as follows:

  • ~70% MSC-certified from the U.S. West Coast (90-95% of U.S. West Coast TAC)
  • ~5% "Best Choice (green)" from the California Groundfish Collective (~35-40% of California landings)
  • ~95% "Good Alternative (yellow)" (~45% from Oregon, ~30% from British Columbia, ~10% from Washington and California)
  • Landings of petrale sole have increased ~100% from 2012 to 2015

Product Forms

Fresh/Frozen
Fresh
Product Forms
Fillet
Steaks
Whole
Fresh/Frozen
Frozen
Product Forms
Fillet
Steaks
Whole

Fresh Seasonal Availability

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes

Culinary Composition

Mild

Flavor

Medium

Texture

Low

Oil

Cooking Methods

Health/Nutrition

Nutrition facts

Serving Size: 100g
Amount per serving
Calories 91
Total Fat 1.2g
Cholesterol 48mg
Sodium 81mg
Carbohydrates 0g
Protein 18.8g
Omega-3 0.2g

Biology

Petrale sole are fast growing flatfishes that can grow up to two feet long and live up to 17 years. Females are generally larger and grow to an average length of 24 inches, with males averaging 18 inches long.  Adults migrate from deeper water to shallower waters to feed in the summer. The majority of the spawning occurs in deep water from November to April along the North American west coast, though spawning occurs earlier in California. Petrale sole reproduce when they are three to eight years or when they reach about one foot long. Females can produce 400,000 to 1.5 million eggs. Larvae spend their first 6 months in the water column feeding on plankton before they are large enough to move to the ocean bottom. Adults feed on crustaceans, pelagic fishes, and even juvenile petrale sole. Sharks, marine mammals, and a variety of large pelagic fishes prey on adult petrale sole. 

Species Habitat

Petrale sole are found from northern Baja California to the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, and the Gulf of Alaska – though the species is considered rare north and west of southeast Alaska. Petrale sole spend their first six months in the water column. Juveniles and adults are bottom dwellers and live on sandy and muddy ocean bottoms along the outer continental shelf. Petrale sole are commonly found at depths from 330 to 500 feet deep though species can inhabit depths from 50 to 1,370 feet.

Science & Management

Wild
Science

NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center conducts annual trawl surveys to assess the status of groundfish stocks. Coastal states and treaty tribes also conduct port-side monitoring programs for petrale sole. These programs provide important biological data that support stock assessments and research. Further research is needed to model historic trends in abundance of petrale sole, catch histories, age and reproduction as well as the impacts of climate change on the species.

Management

NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the petrale sole fishery along the US West Coast. The fishery is managed under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan. In addition to petrale sole, the plan applies to dover sole, sablefish, and a variety of other species caught in the multi-species US West Coast groundfish fishery. The plan:

  • Set limits to minimal allowable harvest size and sets quotas for how many fish can be harvested in a single trip
  • Sets gear restrictions to reduce bycatch and habitat impacts
  • Sets fishing closures based on seasonality and ecologically sensitive areas


Another component of the plan is the establishment of an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) catch share program. The plan limits the amount of fishers able to participate in the fishery, restricts the number of fishing permits available, and sets a total allowable catch limit. A subset of the IFQ, the California Groundfish Collective (CGC), comprises 11 fishing operations that have entered into an agreement to pool member’s IFQs. Strong management and up-to-date stock assessments characterize the CGC.

NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the petrale sole fishery in Alaska. Petrale sole are managed under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska, and the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. However, there is no direct fishery for this species in Alaska and the species is considered rare north and west of southeast Alaska.

Petrale Sole are caught off the coast of British Columbia and the Canadian fishery is managed under Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Harvest Methods

Conservation Criteria - Wild

Impact on Stock

Petrale sole, which are actually more closely related to flounder, are found from southern California to Alaska. Although the population was considered overfished along the U.S. West Coast, a 2013 stock assessment concluded that the fish is rebuilding and no longer experiencing overfishing, according to FishWatch. In the Gulf of Alaska, the last assessment showed petrale sole is not overfished or subject to overfishing. In British Columbia, the population has been increasing from low levels of the 1990s and a 2014 Seafood Watch report indicated the stock is healthy.

Habitat impacts (Wild)

Petrale sole are caught using bottom trawls that are usually destructive to the seafloor, but the sole typically dwell in sandy and muddy bottom habitats that require little recolonization to recover, compared with rocky or reef habitats. In British Columbia, Seafood Watch credited spatial management measures as helping to minimize potential habitat damage, particularly on corals and sponges.

Bycatch

Bycatch in the groundfish fishery that covers Petrale sole is higher in northern shallower offshore shelf waters, according to FishWatch. However, given the multispecies nature of the integrated groundfish fisheries, Seafood Watch noted that there are few species that can be called bycatch in the traditional sense. 

Management effectiveness

In the U.S., petrale sole is managed by NOAA Fisheries, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Fisheries and Oceans Canada manages the species in British Columbia. Measures in the U.S. West Coast include a limited number of permits, a trawl rationalization catch share program that started in 2011, gear restrictions, and area closures. In Alaska, petrale sole fall under the groundfish fishery management plan. Seafood Watch reports from 2014 called petrale sole management in the U.S. and Canada strong overall.

Conservation Criteria - Farmed

Origin Method Ratings
All Other Origins All Other Fishing Methods  
Canada - British Columbia Bottom Trawl  
USA - California California Groundfish Collective    
USA - West Coast Bottom Trawl    
USA - West Coast Midwater Trawl    
Name Country State / Province
Albion Farms & Fisheries Canada British Columbia
Aqualine Seafoods Ltd. Canada British Columbia
Bornstein Seafoods Inc. United States Oregon
Canadian Fishing Company Canada British Columbia
Central California Seafood Marketing Association United States California
Codfathers Seafood Market Canada British Columbia
Empire Fish Company United States Wisconsin
Foods In Season United States Washington
Fort Bragg Groundfish Association United States California
FreshCatch United States California
Half Moon Bay Groundfish Marketing Association United States California
Harbor Pride Seafood United States California
Ilwaco Landing LLC United States Washington
Lusamerica Foods, Inc. United States California
Mikuni Wild Harvest United States Washington
Monterey Fish Market United States California
North Coast Fisheries LLC United States California
Northeast Seafood Products, Inc. United States Colorado
Northwest Fresh Seafood Company United States Oregon
Pacific Harvest Seafoods United States California
Pacific Seafood Group, Inc. United States Oregon
Pioneer Seafoods United States California
Precious Cargo Seafood Company United States Oregon
Real Good Fish United States California
Robbie's Ocean Fresh Seafood Inc. United States California
Royal Hawaiian Seafood United States California
Santa Monica Seafood, Inc. United States California
Sea Forager Seafood United States California
Sea to Table, USA United States New York
Seacore Seafood Inc. Canada Ontario
Seafood Merchants Ltd. United States Illinois
Seattle Fish Company United States Colorado
South Bay Wild, Inc. United States California
Tradex Foods Inc. Canada British Columbia
Vital Choice Wild Seafood and Organics United States Washington