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spotted ray

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Spotted ray by Marc Dando


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 a mixed species ray quota is poor and we have very little stock information making it hard to say how sustainable this fishery is. 
49 tonnes of spotted rays were landed to Cornish ports in 2021 with a value of £46k (MMO data).
Updated July 2023

Sustainability ratings for this species

Gill Netting

Cornish boats landing to Cornish ports

Caught using monofilament nets set on the seabed

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Beam Trawling

Cornish boats landing to Cornish ports

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

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Demersal Trawl

Cornish boats landing to Cornish ports

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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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.


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),

Stock Info

Latest advice from ICES shows that although this is a data poor stock biomass is above MSY and fishing pressure is below MSY whis is very good.  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 59 tonnes in 2019.  The International Conservation Union (IUCN) assessed spotted ray populations as being relatively stable in our area and to be of "Least Concern".



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.


Spotted Ray ICES Advice 2023/4
Spotted ray fact sheet 
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. <>. Downloaded on 16 January 2015.
MMO landings data

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