Blonde ray in the Irish and Celtic Seas, Demersal otter trawl
- Content last updated
- 03 May 2019
- Blonde ray in Divisions 7 a, f, g (Bristol Channel, Irish and North Celtic Seas)
- Stock Status
Very high risk
The status of blonde ray in ICES Divisions 7a and 7f-g (Irish Sea, Bristol Channel and North Celtic Sea) has been scored as very high risk. This because the species is biologically vulnerable and the population trend is unknown.
No quantitative stock assessments have been undertaken and ICES cannot advise on the stock’s exploitation status relative to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) or precautionary approach (PA) reference points because the reference points are undefined. Consequently, the risk score was calculated using the RASS scoring guidelines data-limited approach where the vulnerability score for blonde ray (59/100; FishBase, 2015) was weighted with an unknown population trend.
The management of blonde ray in ICES Divisions 7a and 7f-g (Irish Sea, Bristol Channel and North Celtic Sea) has been scored as a high risk. This is because management controls (Total Allowable Catches; TACs) are derived from limited data and are advised on a biennial basis.
The most recent data indicates that the levels of catch are higher than advised. Furthermore, there is no specific TAC for this stock, and fishing opportunities are managed under the framework of a generic TAC for all skates and rays (Rajidae) over a broader management area which includes the West of Scotland, Irish and Celtic Seas and western English Channel (Divisions 6a, 7a-c,e-k), and which does not control exploitation of individual species. A reduction in catch has been advised, but the generic skate and ray TAC means that there is no mechanism available to implement this reduction.
Compliance can be patchy and misidentifications in skate and ray species can occur in particular between blonde ray and spotted ray.
The bycatch risk of this fishery is scored as high risk. This is because otter trawls have the potential to take relatively high quantities of bycatch of non-target and vulnerable species (> 30% of catch weight), including demersal elasmobranchs and protected, endangered and threatened (e.g. sharks and rays) species in certain circumstances. However, the incoming EU landings obligation is intended to reduce discarding.
The habitat risk of this fishery is scored as a moderate risk. This is because, although otter trawls are considered to have a potential to cause significant habitat damage, damage to vulnerable and sensitive marine habitats is likely to be minimised given that the footprint of the fishery is within core areas, typically historically fished ground. Spatial management to reduce potential interactions with vulnerable habitats are being developed, but there remains uncertainties about the location of some sensitive seabed habitats and therefore some risk of further impact.