About the Species
U.S. wild-caught yellowfin sole is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Above target population levels.
At recommended levels.
Area closures and gear restrictions protect habitats affected by bottom trawls used to harvest yellowfin sole.
Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.
- According to the 2017 stock assessment, yellowfin sole in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands are not overfished and are not subject to overfishing.
- In the Gulf of Alaska, yellowfin sole are part of the “shallow water flatfish complex.” According to the 2017 stock assessment, this complex is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing.
- Yellowfin sole are a flatfish with a small mouth and moderately large eyes that are both on one side of their body.
- Their body shape is generally round with rounded edges on the tail fin.
- Their upper side is olive to dark brown with dark mottling, and their underside is pale.
- Yellowfin sole are named for their yellowish fins. Their fins also have faint dark bars and a narrow dark line at their base.
- Their anal spine is thin, sharp, and exposed.
- They have rough scales on both sides of the body.
- Yellowfin sole grow up to more than 1½ feet long and can live up to 39 years.
- Most females are able to reproduce when they reach 10½ years old, or when they’re about 1 foot long.
- They spawn in the spring and summer in shallow waters on the inner continental shelf. Females produce between 1 and 3 million eggs.
- Larvae and early juveniles eat plankton and algae. Late juveniles and adults eat bivalves, worms, amphipods, mollusks, krill, shrimp, brittle stars, sculpins, and other crustaceans.
- Pacific cod and halibut prey on juvenile yellowfin sole.
Where They Live
- In the United States, yellowfin sole are found in the North Pacific Ocean from British Columbia up to the Chukchi Sea (north of the Bering Sea).
- NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the yellowfin sole fishery.
- Managed under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands:
- Permits are required, and the number of available permits is limited to control the amount of fishing.
- Managers set an annual catch limit for yellowfin sole.
- A percentage of the catch limit is allocated to the community development quota program, which benefits fishery-dependent communities in Western Alaska. The rest is allocated among the various fishing sectors based on gear type, vessel size, and ability to process their catch.
- All yellowfin sole caught must be retained for processing.
- Catch is monitored through record keeping, reporting requirements, and observer coverage.
- Managed under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska:
- Yellowfin sole is included under this fishery management plan, but only a very small amount is incidentally caught in this area.
Recreational Fishing Regulations
Reporting a Recreational Catch
Commercial Fishing Regulations
Reporting A Commercial Catch
Commercial Gear Information
NOAA Fisheries conducts various research activities on the biology, behavior, and ecology of yellowfin sole. The results of this research are used to inform management decisions for this species.
Yellowfin Sole in Alaska
Our research in Alaska on the growth, reproduction, diet, distribution, and juvenile habitat of yellowfin sole provides information crucial for understanding and managing this species.
Data & Maps
The Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report summarizes the best available scientific information...
This database contain's stock assessment and fishery evaluation reports from 2006 - 2016.