Certifier : 
Lloyds Register (Acoura)
Certified status : 
Certified since : 
04 Jun 2009
Certificate expires : 
04 Apr 2021


North Sea plaice is an important species for the European flatfish fleet. The Dutch Ekofish Group, which operates in the central North Sea between Scotland and Denmark, was the first to receive MSC certification for this species.

The fishery uses twin-rigged otter trawl fishing gear. This involves towing two cone-shaped nets side by side, close to or in contact with the seabed. The net has a large mesh size (120-140mm), which means there is little bycatch. 

The fishery operates under a strict quota management regime, closes during the plaice spawning period and voluntarily avoids a number of sensitive areas. The North Sea plaice stock is assessed on an annual basis. Stocks have been growing recently, and this is expected to continue under current harvest levels.

Twin-rigged otter trawling is a novel technique for fishing North Sea plaice. As part of its certification, the Ekofish Group has committed to further researching its impacts on seabed habitats, and evaluating how cod bycatch in the fishery affects the overall recovery of cod stocks in the North Sea.

“We are persuading other twin-rig fishing vessels who want to make the same changes as us to join our group. That way we can bring more MSC plaice to the market.”

Louwe de Boer, Director, Ekofish Group

Plaice image © Rob op den Brouw