Cuckoo ray in North Sea and Skagerrak (ICES Sub-area 4 and Division 3a), Demersal otter trawls
- Content last updated
- 03 May 2019
- Cuckoo ray (Leucoraja naevus) in North Sea, Skagerrak, and Kattegat (ICES Subareaa IV and Division IIIa)
- Stock Status
The status of cuckoo ray in ICES Sub-area 4 and Division 3a (North Sea and Skagerrak) has been scored a moderate risk. This is because there is evidence for a stock increase over the last decade.
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 cuckoo ray (62/100; FishBase, 2015) was weighted with a stable population trend above the long-term average.
The management of cuckoo ray in ICES Sub-area 4 and Division 3a (North Sea and Skagerrak) has been scored 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 TAC for all skates and rays (Rajidae) over a broader management area which also EU waters of Division 2a, and which does not control exploitation of individual species. A precautionary 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.
The bycatch risk in this fishery has been scored a high risk. This is because otter trawls have the potential to take relatively high quantities of bycatch (> 40% of catch weight). However, the cod recovery plan has been implemented in this area and this is expected to have had an influence on the discarding levels in North Sea demersal fisheries and the incoming EU landings obligation is also intended to reduce discarding.
The habitat risk of this fishery has been scored 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, as there remain uncertainties about the location of some sensitive seabed habitats so these remain at risk.