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Shagreen ray

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A large ray which gets its name from Shagreen, processed shark or ray leather with embedded skin teeth which has been prized for centuries for its quality and has been used  in luxury upholstering, on the handles of swords and as an abrasive sandpaper. Marketed as skate wings. 

Sustainability Overview

Like all skates and rays shagreen rays are slow growing and produce a small number of eggs each year so are vulnerable to over fishing. They are relatively rare in our waters and although stocks are poorly studied their landings are decreasing, although seemed to have levelled slightly in recent years. They are caught as by catch in trawl and net fisheries usually in deep water. 


In 2021 6.5 tonnes of shagreen ray were landed to Cornish ports, with a value of £6.7k (MMO landings data).

Updated July 2023

Sustainability ratings for this species

Gill Netting

Cornwall (7e, 7f, 7g, 7h)

Caught using monofilament nets set on the seabed

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Demersal Trawl

Cornwall (7e, 7f, 7g, 7h)

A large trawl held open by paravane trawl doors, the open net is then pulled along in contact with the seabed.

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Beam Trawling

Cornwall (7e, 7f, 7g, 7h)

Caught using heavy beam trawl nets that are dragged over the seabed.

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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.


A large grey ray with a pronounced snout and spiny back. Grows to 120cm max length.
 An outer-shelf species that is usually a small by catch of trawl and gillnet fisheries, including mixed demersal fisheries targeting hake, anglerfish and megrim and in some deepwater fisheries on the continental slopes and offshore banks. It can be a relatively important bycatch species in the south-western Celtic Sea.

Stock Info

Classed as near threatened by ICUN, stock trend worldwide is decreasing.
Landings of shagreen ray were between 8 and 12 tonnes to Cornish ports each year. However landings have decreased each year since 2015 to around 6 tonnes per year since 2019. On the basis of precautionary considerations for data-limited stocks ICES are recommended that total landings in areas 6 and 7, in 2018/19 should be no more than 168 tonnes to avoid catches that could lead to a reduction in the production of offspring.


Skate and rays landing are managed through a mixed species Total allowable catch (quota). This is set by the EU and shared amongst member states. As it covers many species this is not ideal for the protection of each species. There is no specific management plan for demersal elasmobranchs and no management plan for this stock or any skate stock in the ICES area. Given the regional differences in skate assemblages and fisheries, ICES recommends that management measures for elasmobranchs be developed on a case-by-case basis.

Capture Info

Caught in beam trawls, demersal trawls and gill nets. 
These fishing methods all have issues with by-catch of non target species and impacts on the wider marine environment.


Shagreen Ray ICES Advice 2023/4, Areas 6 and 7 
MMO landings data
Shark trust factsheets Shark Trust; 2009. An Illustrated Compendium of Sharks, Skates, Rays and Chimaera. Chapter 1: The British Isles. Part 1: Skates and Rays.
Seafish responsible sourcing guides 
ICES Advice Rays and Skates in the Celtic sea ecoregion 2013
Enever, R., Revill, A., Grant, A. (2009) The survival of skates (Rajidae) caught by demersal trawlers fishing in UK waters. Fisheries Research 97 (1-2) 72-76
Ref  -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
Ellis, J., Ungaro, N., Serena, F., Dulvy, N., Tinti, F., Bertozzi, M., Pasolini, P., Mancusi, C. & Notarbartolo di Sciara, G. 2009. Leucoraja fullonica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 23 January 2015.

Bisch, A., Elliott, S.A., Carpentier, A. and Acou, A., 2022. Modelling the distribution of vulnerable skate from fisheries dependent data using imperfect detection. Progress in Oceanography206, p.102859.

Where to buy

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