Megrim

Megrim
  • Scientific name: Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis
  • Also known as: Whiffy, Whiff, Megrim Sole, Cornish Sole
  • Size: Up to 2ft and 4lbs.
  • UK minimum size: 10ins/25cm
  • UK shore caught record: 2lb 6oz
  • IUCN Status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Distribution: Quite common around most of the deep, offshore waters around the UK, although absent from the southern North Sea and much of the English Channel. Prefer clear seabeds.
  • Feeds on: Small fish and crustaceans.
  • Description: Slim bodied, oval shaped left-eyed flatfish. Body is pale orange/yellow to light brown, and can have a translucent appearance. Dorsal and anal fin start far back on the body and run right along to the tail and be edged in black. Head and mouth are relatively large in relation to the rest of the body.

Distribution

Megrim is a deep sea flatfish that rarely comes into water shallower than 50m, and is more commonly found in water of 200-300 metres, but can be found all of the way down to 1000m, explaining why it is a rare catch by shore anglers. Megrim are usually found over muddy or sandy seabeds and avoid heavy or broken ground or areas with a lot of weed. Megrim feed on small fishes which live on or near the seabed, and will also take crustaceans and dislodged shellfish. Megrim migrate to the west of the British Isles and off the coast of Iceland to spawn, and there is a separate breeding ground in the Mediterranean. Megrim are thought to live for up to fifteen years.

Megrim as a Commercial Fish

Megrim is a fish of economic importance and is targeted by commercial vessels, with Spanish and French vessels taking the majority of megrim. It is caught by deep-sea bottom and otter trawls. It is seen as a responsible choice of fish as stocks are thought to be stable. There have been calls for UK consumers to eat more megrim to take pressure off the over-exploited big five species (cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns).  Currently, around 90% of megrim caught in UK waters is exported to continental Europe. However, in some fisheries where more traditional table fish such as cod and haddock is targeted there is a major problem with vessels catching large amounts of megrim as bycatch. Up to 45% of megrim caught in European waters is inadvertently caught by vessels targeting different species and is thrown back into the sea dead as bycatch. There is a second species of megrim in UK waters, the four-spot megrim (Lepidorhombus boscii), although they are usually classed together as one species in stock assessments and commercial catches.

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