Starry ray in the North Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat and Eastern English Channel, Demersal otter trawl
- Content last updated
- 14 May 2019
- Starry ray ICES divisions IIIa, VIId (Skagerrak & Kattegat and Eastern Channel) and Sub-area IV (North Sea)
- Stock Status
Very high risk
The status of starry ray in Subareas 2 and 4 and Division 3a (Norwegian Sea, North Sea, Skagerrak, and Kattegat) has been scored as very high risk. This is because, whilst the state of the stock is uncertain, there is evidence for a recent decline in the stock. 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.
Nevertheless, in 2015 (the most recent assessment), based on the precautionary approach, ICES advised there should be no targeted fishery for this stock and measures should be taken to reduce bycatch. The risk score was calculated using the RASS scoring guidelines data-limited approach where the vulnerability score for starry ray (59/100; FishBase, 2015) was weighted with an unknown population trend.
The management of starry ray in Subareas II and IV and Division IIIa (Norwegian Sea, North Sea, Skagerrak, and Kattegat) has been scored a moderate risk. This is because data-derived management controls are in place, albeit under the framework of a generic TAC for all skates (Rajidae) over a broader management area, and that compliance can be patchy (e.g. misidentifications in skate species can occur). Data-limited assessments and scientific advice for this stock is provided on a biennial basis and a comprehensive regulatory framework is in place.
In 2015, EC regulations listed starry ray as a ‘prohibited species’ in Union waters of ICES Divisions IIa, IIIa and VIId and subarea IV, although there are no published data on the survival of discarded starry 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.