Thornback ray in the Western English Channel, demersal otter trawl
- Content last updated
- 29 May 2019
- Thornback ray (Raja clavata) in the Western English Channel (ICES Division 7e)
- European Union
- Stock Status
The management of thornback ray in the Western English Channel (ICES Division 7e) 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 includes the West of Scotland, Irish and Celtic Seas and western English Channel (Divisions 6a,6a, 7a-c,e-k), and which does not control exploitation of individual species. Compliance can be patchy and misidentifications in skate and ray species can occur (e.g. between thornback ray and starry ray).
The management of thornback ray in the Western English Channel (ICES Division 7e) 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 these stocks are provided on a biennial basis and a comprehensive regulatory framework is in place.
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 remain uncertainties about the location of some sensitive seabed habitats and therefore some risk of further impact.