Yellowfin sole has a firm, delicate texture with small flakes and when cooked and a mild, sweet flavor. It is available throughout the year, primarily as frozen skinless, boneless fillets. Most yellowfin sole weighs less than a pound so it’s usually sold as thin two- to four-ounce fillets. It is almost always frozen H&G at sea and processed in China into fillets before being sold in the U.S. Quality of Pacific flatfish, including yellowfin sole, varies greatly so it’s important to look for unbruised fillets that have uniform color. Purchasing whole yellowfin sole should only be done if the buyer has a way to negotiate with the supplier since there can be a high percentage of soft-flesh fish.
Yellowfin sole is a type of flounder that is slow growing, long-lived and greatly affected by changing environmental conditions, making it vulnerable to fishing pressure. However, its wide distribution over much of the North Pacific helps counterbalance these traits somewhat.
Yellowfin sole, which is primarily harvested in the United States, is the largest flatfish fishery in Alaska due to its abundance. Although yellowfin sole was harvested heavily in the 1950s and ’60s, its population has recovered to above target levels.
Habitat impacts (Wild)
Factory trawlers in the Bering Sea off Alaska are the primary means of catching yellowfin sole. Trawling tends to be highly destructive to seafloor habitats but yellowfin sole typically dwell in sandy, muddy bottom habitats that require little rebuilding to recover compared to rocky or reef areas.
Bycatch in the yellowfin sole fishery is considered low, and does not include overfished species. Restrictions are in place to keep bycatch low, and according to the Environmental Defense Fund, better gear design is helping trawlers avoid areas where bycatch will be more likely.
Successful management measures helped yellowfin sole reach high levels of abundance. Substantial fishery management measurements remain in place in the North Pacific, including close catch and bycatch monitoring, calculated catch limits, and independent population assessments.