- Certifier :
- MRAG Americas, Inc.
- Certified status :
- Combined with another assessment
- Certified since :
- 20 May 2010
- Certificate expires :
- 28 Apr 2021
Fisheries are composed of one or more parts, each of which is entitled to receive an MSC certificate. These parts or “units” are defined by their target stock(s), fishing gear type(s) and if relevant vessel type(s), and the fishing fleets or groups of vessels.
Some or all units that participated in this fishery are now covered by another assessment. Please see the BSAI and GOA flatfish for more information.
Units of Certification & Certificate Information
Catch by Species
|Species||Reported Catch Year||Metric Tonnes|
|Flathead sole (Hippoglossoides elassodon)||2018||2,045|
|Rex sole (Glyptocephalus zachirus)||2018||1,638|
|Arrow-tooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias)||2018||17,498|
Information is provided by an independent Conformity Assessment Body as live weight (the weight of species at the time of catch, before processing) and where a fishing season covers multiple years, the end year is given as the reported catch year. Additional information is available in the latest report, see the assessments page.
About this Fishery
After World War Two, the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea was fished intensively for various bottom fish species by the Japanese and others. In the 1950s and 1960s, large-scale trawling by foreign fishing vessels occurred throughout the region targeting mainly Pacific Ocean perch, flounders and Pacific cod. Pacific Ocean perch and yellowfin sole stocks were apparently overfished, resulting in a collapse of some stocks that are currently being or have been rebuilt.
The certified flatfish fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska target five species: flathead sole, arrowtooth flounder, rex sole, northern rock sole and southern rock sole.
They include both “catcher boats”, of 60-90 feet (~20-30m) that deliver fresh fish to processors on shore, and larger “catcher-processors” of 110-270 (~35-80m) that head, gut and freeze the fish on board.
As flatfish are bottom dwellers, the boats use bottom trawling. New gear has been introduced to minimize impact on the seabed, and certain sensitive habitats are avoided.
There are strict quotas in place for the various flatfish species the fishery targets as well as bycatch species such as crab and halibut. The fishery has also made improvements such as halibut excluder devices to reduce bycatch.
Arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias) image © Scandinavian Fishing Year Book
Alaska flatfish are sold to domestic, Asian and European consumers.