American Plaice (Maritime Population)

Hippoglossoides platessoides

SARA Status
No Status
NS
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

SARA Status

  • No Status NS
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX
COSEWIC Status
Not at Risk
NR
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

COSEWIC Status

  • Not at Risk NR
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX

Description

American plaice (Hippoglossoides platessoides) has the following characteristics:

  • A flat fish with a rounded caudal fin;
  • The mouth is large, the jawbone extends to below the mouth.
  • The top portion of the body is reddish-brown while the bottom portion is white.
  • Adults can grow upwards of 60 cm in length.

American plaice, a relatively slow growing fish, has a unique flattened body. When a young plaice hatches, it has a normal fish shape. During development, when it settles to the bottom of the ocean, the side of its body becomes flat and its left eye migrates to the right side of the body so that the plaice swims on its side. The upper side (which now has both eyes) is normally coloured so that the plaice can camouflage itself in the sediment. In American plaice, both eyes are almost always found on the right side of the body.

Habitat

The Maritime designatable unit of American plaice occurs in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Scotian shelf, the Bay of Fundy and Georges Bank. It is part of Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) divisions 4RST, 4Vn and 4VsWX. Eggs and Larvae are pelagic. Juvenile and adults commonly burrow in the sediment. They prefer depths of 50 to 200 meters and water temperatures ranging from 0 to 1.5ºC.

Threats

Overfishing has been the main threat to American plaice. Natural mortality has increased in the Maritime designatable unit, causing most of the declines of recent decades and the failure of the stocks to recover significantly following reduced fishing. There may be several factors contributing to high natural mortality, including predation and adverse environmental conditions. Illegal discarding of small fish is also believed to have contributed to the decline in the Maritime population.

Further Information

The Maritime population of American Plaice has been designated as threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Public consultations regarding the addition of this population to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk were held from November 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014. The Governor-in-Council's listing recommendation will published in the Canada Gazette Part I (Government of Canada newspaper where laws and regulations are published).

Visit the Species at Risk (SARA) Public Registry.

American Plaice

American Plaice

Scientific name: Hippoglossoides platessoides
SARA Status: No Status
COSEWIC Status: Threatened 2009
Region: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador

American plaice distribution for the Maritime population

This map indicates American plaice distribution for the Maritime population

Related Information