Sandy ray in the Irish and Celtic Seas and West of Scotland, Demersal otter trawl
- Content last updated
- 10 May 2019
- Sandy ray in ICES Divisions VIIa-c, e-k, and Sub-area VI VI (Irish Sea, Celtic Seas and west of Scotland)
- Stock Status
Very high risk
Very high risk
The status of sandy ray in ICES Divisions 7a-c, e-k, and Sub-area 6 (Irish Sea, Celtic Seas and west of Scotland) has been scored a 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 sandy ray (67/100; FishBase, 2015) was weighted with an unknown population trend.
The management of sandy ray in ICES Sub-areas 6 and 7 (Irish Sea, Celtic Seas and west of Scotland) 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.
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.
The bycatch risk of this fishery has been scored a very high risk This is because bycatch of vulnerable species in the demersal otter trawl fleet is potentially relatively high (> 40% of catch weight) compared to other fisheries in the world. Demersal otter trawls have the potential to take relatively high quantities of bycatch of vulnerable species in certain circumstances, including demersal elasmobranchs.
The habitat risk of this fishery has been scored a high risk. This is because demersal otter trawls interact with seabed habitats resulting in abrasion and penetration from ground gear, sweeps and bridles. Some spatial management is in place to restrict the footprint of this gear in areas with vulnerable habitat.