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.
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.
59 tonnes of spotted rays were landed to Cornish ports in 2019 with a value of £60K (MMO data).
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 GuideLearn 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.
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".
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.
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!