Spotted ray in the North Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat and Eastern English Channel, Demersal otter trawl
- Content last updated
- 10 May 2019
- Spotted ray (Raja montagui) in Subarea 4 and in divisions 3.a and 7.d (North Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat, and Eastern English Channel)
- European Union
- Stock Status
The status of spotted ray in ICES Subarea 4 and Divisions 3a and 7d (North Sea, Skagerrak and Eastern English Channel) has been scored as moderate risk. This is because, whilst the state of the stock is uncertain, there is evidence that the abundance of this stock is stable at higher than the long term average.
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 spotted ray (57/100; FishBase, 2015) was weighted with an increasing population trend.
The management of spotted ray in ICES Sub-area 4 and Divisions 3a and 7d (North Sea, Skagerrak and Eastern English Channel) 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 (most recent in October 2017).
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 also includes EU waters of Division 2a) and which does not control exploitation of individual species. However, the most recent catch data indicates that catch levels are below the advised level. However, compliance can be patchy and misidentifications in skate and ray species can occur (e.g. between blonde ray and spotted ray).
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. There are also catches of demersal elasmobranchs and protected, endangered and threatened (e.g. sharks and rays) species in certain circumstances.
The habitat risk of this fishery has been scored a high-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 remains uncertainties about the location of some sensitive seabed habitats so these remain at risk.