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Brill by Marc Dando


Brill is a large and meaty flat fish very similar to a turbot. It has a dark mottled appearance although the colour is variable. With small, smooth scales. 

Sustainability Overview

According to the latest studies carried out by ICES brill stocks are thought to be healthy in our area, and fishing effort is well below sustainable limits.  Landings have remained stable over the past two decades. They have a relatively low vulnerability to over fishing being faster growing than many other flatfish species. In Cornwall there is a minimum landing size of 30cm for Brill. 

In 2020 a total of 39 tonnes of brill were landed to Cornish ports with a value of £289k (MMO data).

Updated July 2022

Sustainability ratings for this species

Demersal Trawl

Cornish vessels landing to Cornish ports

Demersal trawls are large nets that are pulled through the water with the bottom edge of the net touching the seabed. At each edge the net is pulled open by metal ‘trawl doors’. Sometimes referred to as Otter trawling.

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Gill Netting

Cornish vessels landing to Cornish ports

Gill nets are lightweight nets made of nylon (monofilament) fishing line that are anchored to the seabed and are used to catch fish by entangling the gills.

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Beam Trawling

Cornish vessels landing to Cornish ports

Beam trawls are nets attached to a steel beam that holds the net open. The belly of the net is made of chains and the upper surface of the net is mesh. Beam trawlers pull two nets along the seabed simultaneously.

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How we rate fish

Cornwall Good Seafood Guide rates fish on sustainability using a scale of 1 to 5.

1, 2 and 3 are recommended, Fish to avoid are rated 5.

We use the system devised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) so our scores are comparable with the scores produced by MCS for the UK and fisheries from all around the world. For more information on scoring click here.


Brill is a shallow-water flatfish related to turbot. They are distributed from southern Iceland, down the coast of western Europe, and in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Juvenile fish are typically found close inshore, usually over clean sand, gravel and mud, and can occur in estuaries. Mature fish tend to inhabit offshore areas, and are rarely observed inshore. Brill are a left-eyed flatfish (they lay on their right side so both eyes are on the left). They can grow to a maximum size of 75 cm though are more typically around 55 cm, and have an average weight of around 2.5 kg for females (which are larger than males). They are not particularly long-lived; the maximum reported age is 6 years; females become fully mature at about 4 years (around 40 cm). Small brill feed on bottom-dwelling fish and small crabs, larger individuals feed almost exclusively on fish. Brill grows relatively fast, and will generally reach a certain length faster (at younger ages) than flatfish such as sole and plaice in the same areas. Spawning occurs in spring and summer. Brill have a bilogicical vulnerability rating of 31% (Cheung et al 2005) which is moderate meaning this species is less vulnerable to fishing affecting populations than many other species.

Stock Info

Latest analysis by ICES on brill in the English channel, north Sea and scandinavia shows that fishing effort has decreased and that stocks of brill are healthy although there is a slight decrease in stocks since 2015. Landings to Cornish ports have remained steady for the past 20 years at around 50 tonnes per year (MMO landings data). Although a valuable species the quantities landed mean that this is of limited commercial importance.  A slight downturn in landings was recorded in 2020 due to reduced fishing during covid lockdown.


Catches of Brill are not currently capped by a quota system. Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority have set a minimum landing size in Cornwall for brill of 30cm. There is no EU minimum landing size. Current levels of management is thought to be sufficient. 

Capture Info

Brill is caught in Cornish waters by beam trawlers and demersal trawlers, and gill netters. All of these methods have some issues with environmental impact in different ways.  Accidental by catch of cetaceans, seabirds and sharks and rays in gill netting reduces the rating for this capture method.


ICES advice Brill in Western Channel 2022

ICES advice Brill 2021

ICES advice Brill  2020

MMO landings data 

CIFCA by laws

Cheung, W.W.L., T.J. Pitcher and D. Pauly, 2005. A fuzzy logic expert system to estimate intrinsic extinction vulnerabilities of marine fishes to fishing. Biol. Conserv. 124:97-111

Seafish Responsible sourceing guides,  Brill 2004

ICES WGNEW 2010, and 2013

Recipes for Brill

Where to buy

Find and buy Cornish Seafood

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