Small-eyed ray is a small species of ray which is a member of the skate family, like all skates it lays eggs and has a spiny tail that lacks a sting. It is commonly marketed as skate wings. This species is commonly found around the north coast of Cornwall and is abundant in the Bristol channel. It is easily identified by its colour; a sandy background with pale lines running parallel with the front edges of the wings.
Stocks of all skates and rays are poorly studied in our area. The International Conservation Union (IUCN) have rated the species as "Near Threatened" in the northeast Atlantic. Following recent evidence of decline in Bristol Channel stocks of Small eyed rays ICES are advising a 50% decrese in landings. It is not recommended that you buy skate wings that are smaller than 22cm. Management of this species is poor as there is no limiting quota and it is hard for trawlers and netters to avoid accidental by-catch off this species. The survival rate of live discarded fish is better than with some other species. To improve this rating it would be great to see more fisher led initiatives, simmilar to the voluntary measures adopted by fishermen in the north Devon ray fishery.
Updated December 2020
Cornwall, VIIe, f, g and h
This species is caught using many methods but for this species all are scored the same by Cornwall Good Seafood Guide.Learn more
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.
Small-eyed rays belong to the Rajidae family which includes skates and rays. Small-eyed rays are a small to medium sized inshore and coastal species, attaining a maximum length of 80 to 90cm and weight of 8kg. All skates are slow growing and produce few eggs per year compared to commercially targeted fin fish. Males and females mature from 44 to 58cm in length. Age at maturity and maximum age is unknown. Small-eyed rays produce between 54 and 61 eggs per year. They have a high level of biological vulnerability 62/100 Cheung et all 2005. (www.fishbase.org)
The state of the stock in this area is becoming better studied in recent years as recording of this species has become more accurate. ICES has not defined reference points for this stock and there is no analytical assessment presented for it. AThe International Conservation Union (IUCN) have rated the species as "Near Threatened" in the Northeast Atlantic.
ICES latest advice for the Bristol channel shows a decline in biomass of this species and it calls for a significant reduction in landings from over 300 tonnes landed in 2020 to a maximum of 123 tonnes landed in 2021.
Live oysters are mainly served raw. All you need is a knife, a bottle of good wine, and a little lemon or tobasco and away you go!