Dry Plaice | Center Moriches, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Melville, United States

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Plaice is a common name used for a group of flatfish. There are four species in the group, the European, American, Alaskan and scale-eye plaice.

Commercially the most important plaice is the European plaice. This is the principal commercial flatfish in Europe. It is also widely fished recreationally, has potential as an aquaculture species, and is kept as an aquarium fish. Also commercially important is the American plaice.

The term plaice (plural plaice) comes from the 14th century Anglo-French plais. This in turn comes from the late Latin platessa, meaning flatfish, which originated from the Greek platys, meaning broad.

Like the European plaice, the American plaice is also a right eyed flatfish belonging to the Pleuronectidae family. American plaice are an Atlantic species. They range from southern Labrador to Rhode Island. They are also found in Europe, where they are called the rough dab or the long rough dab. They spawn in the Gulf of Maine, with peak activity in April and May. They are brown or reddish, and are generally smaller than European plaice with a rougher skin and larger scales. Their maximum recorded length is 82.6 cm (32.5 inches), and maximum reported age 30 years. They are usually found between depths of 90 metres and 250 metres on sandy bottoms with temperatures between -0.5 and 2.5°C. They feed on small fishes and invertebrates. The species is considered by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization to be overfished, with no signs of recovery. On the other hand, the Canadian government believes the species is abundant. It is the second most caught flatfish in Canada, accounting for 50 percent of all flatfish caught.

American plaice may be an intermediate host for the nematode parasite Otostrongylus circumlitis, which is a lungworm of seals, primarily affecting animals less than 1 yr of age. They are also currently endangered in Canada due to overfishing. Read more

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