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Undulate ray

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Undulate ray


A beautiful ray, a member of the skate family the undulate ray has striking undulating patterns of darker lines and spots across a pale grey to sand yellow background. This relatively large ray is now protected and can no longer be landed by commercial fishermen.

Sustainability Overview

This striking species is protected and listed as Endangered by IUCN. It is very unlikely that you will find one offered for sale in Cornwall but if you ever do or if you catch one please report it to Cornwall Wildlife Trust. 
Since January 2009, fishermen have been prohibited from targeting, retaining, trans-shipping or landing Undulate rays caught in EU waters in an attempt to protect the species. Any Undulate rays caught are to be returned unharmed where possible to the sea.

Sustainability ratings for this species

All Applicable Methods

Cornish vessels landing to Cornish ports

Avoid eating this species, regardless of method used to catch it.

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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.


The undulate ray is a medium sized skate that grows to a maximum length of 100cm and weight of 10kg. The species lives for up to 20 years and is not sexually mature until it is 9 years old and 75cm in length. Eggs are laid from March to September. They live on the seabed and feed on a range of invertebrates, crustaceans, molluscs worms and fish.

Stock Info

This species has a patchy distribution and is only found in the English Channel and is rare in Cornish waters. Knowledge of its stocks are not good enough to predict the population. Until recently identification to species level was not carried out when recording landings of skate species. In 2009 the Undulate Ray received full protection from the European Council meaning that it cannot be retained or landed if caught. (shark trust). ICES recommend that for 2015 and 2016 there should be no targeted fishing for this species. the latest ICES report 2018 shows that stocks are now increasing.


The EU has designated the undulate ray as a Prohibited Species for commercial fishing vessels in areas XI, VII, VIII, IX and X. This means fishermen are prohibited from targeting, retaining, transhipping and landing the species. Tralee Bay (Area VIIj) is voluntarily closed to commercial fishing to protect regionally important elasmobranchs including the undulate ray and the Angel shark, which are only found in localised populations on the Irish west coast. The only other known specific closed area for the protection of elasmobranchs is the Ray Box in the Bristol Channel. In 2007, Fisheries Science Partnership projects (fishermen and scientists working together) were conducted to investigate discard survival rates in trawl fisheries to find out the survival rate for skates and rays that would be discarded with the introduction of a maximum landing length. The projects also aimed to develop species identification onboard and contribute to improved data collection. The Skate and Ray Producers Association has recently been working to improve the lack of species specific data by reporting their catches by species into a central database. This follows previous collaborative work with the Shark Trust and Seafish Industry Authority, to produce an identification guide to help distinguish different species.

Capture Info

Skates and rays are often caught in beam trawls, demersal trawls and gill nets. Undulate rays must be returned immediately to the sea when caught. 
These fishing methods all have issues with by-catch of non target species and impacts on the wider marine environment.


ICES advice Undulate ray area 2018
IUCN red list Undulate Ray
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
ICES advice October 2014 Undulate ray in Celtic sea and West of Scotland.

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