Māori Name: pātiki
Name Scientific: Rhombosolea: R. leporina: R. tapirina: R. retiaria
Attributes Weight: 0.2–0.6kg
Attributes Length: 25–45cm
They are a shallow-water fish found at depths of up to 50 metres. In New Zealand, they are most abundant in harbours, estuaries, and muddy bays, particularly in the north.
Dark olive green body above with yellow or white on the belly and dark spots. The body is oval. Yellowbelly flounder are plumper than Sand flounder, and have smaller eyes and larger, dark-edged scales.
Yellowbelly flounder belong to the Pleuronectidae (righteye flounders) family. Related species: Greenback flounder (R. tapirina) are dark green above and white below, with an oval body and a pointed snout. They are found in the Canterbury Bight and also in Southland. Black flounder (R. retiaria) are dark green to black above with small, brick-red spots, and pale grey below with some darker spots. They have an oval shaped body that is thicker than some other flat fish. Black flounder are found mainly in estuaries and the tidal reaches of rivers.
Flatfish were introduced to the QMS in 1986 as a group, rather than individual species (species-specific catch reporting is now encouraged). The annual catch limit for flatfish has varied from 5,409 to 6,670 tonnes since 1986. Stock abundance of flatfish can vary markedly in response to environmental variation. Accordingly, catch limits may be changed frequently to respond to these fluctuations.
Yellowbelly flounder are caught year-round in the Firth of Thames and in Kaipara and Manukau harbours, most commonly in set nets.
Did You Know
'Right-eyed' flounders have an eye on each side of their head when they're larvae. As they grow their left eye shifts to the right side of their head and the body's left side becomes their flat underside. 'Left-eyed' flounders go vice versa.
Flatfish have delicate moist, flesh and benefit from light cooking. Brill and turbot, being larger fish, have denser flesh. Flatfish can be interchanged for one another in most recipes. Bake, grill, barbecue or fry. The flesh will flake easily when cooked.
When buying whole flounder and other flatfish, always check the... EYES: Bright and clear cornea, shiny black pupil GILLS: Rosy coloured gills FLESH: semi-transparent and glossy. If the fish looks sticky or mushy then it is not fresh.