Cuckoo ray in West of Scotland Irish and Celtic Seas and Bay of Biscay, Demersal otter trawl
- Content last updated
- 03 May 2019
- Cuckoo ray (Leucoraja naevus) in subareas 6 and 7 and divisions 8.ab and 8.d (West of Scotland Irish and Celtic Seas, western Channel and Bay of Biscay)
- Stock Status
The status of cuckoo ray in Sub-areas 6 and 7 and Divisions 8ab and 8d has been scored a moderate risk. This is because the stock size indicator, based on two surveys, has been relatively stable with an increase in recent years.
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 have not been defined for this stock. 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 an increasing population trend.
The management of cuckoo ray in ICES Subareas 6 and 7 and Divisions 8a,b and 8d (west of Scotland, southern Celtic Seas, western English Channel and Bay of Biscay) has been scored a moderate risk. This is because management controls (Total Allowable Catches; TACs) are derived from limited data and are advised on a biennial basis.
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, western English Channel and Bay of Biscay (essentially Sub-areas 6, 7, 8 and 9), and which does not control exploitation of individual species. Whilst catches have been higher than advised in the past, the current advised catch is close to the recent level of reported catch
Compliance can be patchy and misidentifications in skate and ray species can occur.
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.