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spotted ray

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Spotted ray by Marc Dando

Description

A relatively small sized ray belonging to the skate family which is often marketed as skate wings. Spotted rays have a rough upper skin and large skin teeth along its tail. The spotted ray is one of 5 similar Rajid skate species found in our waters.

Sustainability Overview

Skates and rays are slow growing, late maturing and lay a small number of eggs per year so are highly vulnerable to fishing pressure.  This species is often caught as by-catch in trawl and net fisheries. 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 of this 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. Stock levels appear to be stable and of all our ray species this is the most abundant

 
Updated December 2020

Sustainability ratings for this species

All Applicable Methods

Cornish boats landing to Cornish ports

This species is caught using many methods but for this species all are scored the same by Cornwall Good Seafood Guide

Learn more

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.

Biology

Spotted rays are a small to medium sized, inshore and coastal shelf species attaining a maximum length of 80cm and weight of 4kg. Males mature at a length of about 54cm and females at about 57cm (both between 3 to 8 years old). The species has a maximum recorded age of 14 years. Mature females produce between 20 and 70 eggs per year.  Its small body size and relatively high recruitment rate means that it is less vulnerable to fishing pressure than many of the larger European skate (Shark trust) but still their Biological vulnerability score is much higher than for most fin fish species  -59/100 (Cheung et all 2005), www.fishbase.org

Stock Info

Stocks are understudied and the health of populations are unknown in our area although ICES reports that stoks have been stable since 2013.  Skates and rays are inherently vulnerable to overfishing due to slow growth rates, late maturation and low fecundity. In addition, little is known about the stock status of many individual species because they have been historically landed under the generic skates and rays category.  Avoid eating these species below the size at which they mature: spotted ray males mature at a length of about 54cm and females at about 57cm (both between 3 to 8 years old). MMO landings data show that landings of spotted ray have increased each year to Cornish ports from 22 tonnes in 2014 to 47 tonnes in 2018.  The International Conservation Union (IUCN) assessed spotted ray populations as being relatively stable in our area and to be of "Least Concern".

Management

All skates and rays are managed by a mixed quota system in EU waters. There is no specific management plan for demersal elasmobranchs and no management plan for this stock or any skate stock in the ICES area. There is no minimum landing size for spotted ray in Cornish waters. 
 

Capture Info

Skates and rays form an important component of trawl and net fisheries and are routinely landed as 'skate', rather than species specific reporting. This species is taken as bycatch and as a small and low value species they are often discarded. A study by CEFAS Catchpole et all 2009 shows that some discarded spotted ray may survive but overall discard mortality kills as many spotted rays as are landed by fishermen. No Minimum Landing Size (MLS) is specified for skates and rays in EU waters outside 6 miles. Bycatch of marine mammals and other non-target species can be problematic in fixed-net fisheries. However, use of management measures, including acoustic devices called 'pingers', can help reduce bycatch of marine mammals. See Fishing methods for more details.

References

ICES advice 2020 Spotted Rays Southern Celtic Seas and Western Channel
ICES advice 2018 Southern Celtic seas and western English Channel
ICES advice Spotted Ray Celtic Sea 2016
Spotted ray fact sheet www.sharktrust.org 
Shark Trust; 2009. An Illustrated Compendium of Sharks, Skates, Rays and Chimaera. Chapter 1: The British Isles. Part 1: Skates and Rays
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
Ellis, J., Ungaro,N., Serena,F., Dulvy,N.,Tinti,F., Bertozzi, M., Pasolini, P., Mancusi,C. & Noarbartolo di Sciara, G. 2007. Raja montagui. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 16 January 2015.
ICES Spotted ray in Celtic sea and west of Scotland 2014
 

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