Last updated on 30 January 2018

SUMMARY

SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Raja brachyura

SPECIES NAME(s)

Blonde ray

COMMON NAMES

Blonde skate

Blonde ray (Raja brachyura) are the main target species in the southern Irish Sea skate fishery, and an important target in the Bristol Channel skate fishery. Elsewhere this coastal and inner shelf species is mainly taken as bycatch in trawl and gillnet fisheries. As one of the larger and more marketable species in the skate complex, it may be targeted in some local, seasonal fisheries (ICES 2012).


ANALYSIS

Strengths

Considering that catch limits are not appropriate for the management of rays, other measures such as area closures and effort restrictions are being evaluated. In 2012, ICES gave its first advice, based on the approach for data-limited stocks. Voluntary measures are defined by fishermen – a minimum landing size and a seasonal closure area (Ray box). Surveys are conducted to assess ray stocks, in Fisheries Science Partnerships (with the participation of scientists and fishermen).

Weaknesses

Species-specific catches are not yet available – mixture with other ray species. No catch limit is set. The stock status is not known; no stock assessment has been conducted. Abundance survey estimates are not adequate probably due to gears’ selectivity issues. Biological aspects of the species are not truly understood and are essential to provide appropriate quantitative advice and management. No specific management measures exist at the European or national level (ICES 2012, ICES 2013).

Species-specific catch data for all the species covered in this advice sheet are of limited extent and there are data quality issues. Age data are not routinely collected. Data limitations and the biological characteristics of elasmobranchs restrict the use of length-based assessment methods at this point (ICES 2012).

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

< 6

Managers Compliance:

< 6

Fishers Compliance:

≥ 6

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

NOT YET SCORED

Future Health:

NOT YET SCORED


FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

  • Bristol Channel ray:

    Withdrawn

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

ASSESSMENT UNIT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Bristol Channel VIIf EU United Kingdom Multiple bottom otter trawls
Celtic Sea VIIg EU United Kingdom Multiple bottom otter trawls
Irish Sea VIIa EU United Kingdom Multiple bottom otter trawls

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 17 November 2016

Strengths

Considering that catch limits are not appropriate for the management of rays, other measures such as area closures and effort restrictions are being evaluated. In 2012, ICES gave its first advice, based on the approach for data-limited stocks. Voluntary measures are defined by fishermen – a minimum landing size and a seasonal closure area (Ray box). Surveys are conducted to assess ray stocks, in Fisheries Science Partnerships (with the participation of scientists and fishermen).

Weaknesses

Species-specific catches are not yet available – mixture with other ray species. No catch limit is set. The stock status is not known; no stock assessment has been conducted. Abundance survey estimates are not adequate probably due to gears’ selectivity issues. Biological aspects of the species are not truly understood and are essential to provide appropriate quantitative advice and management. No specific management measures exist at the European or national level (ICES 2012, ICES 2013).

Species-specific catch data for all the species covered in this advice sheet are of limited extent and there are data quality issues. Age data are not routinely collected. Data limitations and the biological characteristics of elasmobranchs restrict the use of length-based assessment methods at this point (ICES 2012).

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 17 November 2016

No stock assessment has been conducted.

In the absence of formal stock assessments and defined reference points for skate stocks and demersal sharks in this ecoregion, the general status of the major species is evaluated from fishery-independent trawl surveys (ICES 2012).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 17 November 2016

Scientific advice was provided by ICES for the first time in 2012 for skates and rays stocks, based on an approach for data-limited stocks, but Blonde ray was not included. For the previous years, no species-specific advice was carried out. For 2013, ICES recommended a reduction of 20% in catches (landings and discards) using the reference of last 3 year’s landings average (ICES, 2012) and for 2014, it is advised that previous years’ landings should be maintained (ICES, 2013a). A quantitative advice is not possible in lack of biological knowledge of the species and difficulties on research due to patchy distribution and ineffective sampling (ICES, 2013c). Results of both RECOAM and Myfish projects are expected to gather data about the species (ICES, 2013c).

In May 2013, the European Union (EU) asked ICES for ‘special management measures for skates and rays’. Catch limits are considered to be inappropriate for the species due to multispecies nature of the fishery. Other management measures such as closed areas/seasons, effort restrictions, technical rules or tailored measures are considered to be more effective. ICES also considers that species-specific measures are needed (ICES, 2012) and that multi-stakeholder meetings, including the fishing industry, should be held to properly manage the stock (ICES, 2013a,b).

A Focus Group on Skates and Rays was created under the North Western Waters Regional Advisory Council (NWWRAC), namely to develop a long-term management plan, as suggested by the Irish Fishing Industry, for ICES areas VI and VII. Two closure areas were proposed to protect the spawning season but were not yet established; monitoring should happen to measure the effectiveness (ICES, 2013b).

Different minimum landing sizes (MLS) were suggested by the fishing industry (NDFA, 2008) and by scientists (e.g. Lancaster, 2010), a closed area North of Lundy (Bristol Channel) was also advocated to protect juveniles as well as a monitoring scheme by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) (Cefas, undated; NDFA, 2008). Cefas has been conducting surveys to monitor ray stocks – discarding, survival rates, impact of fishing gears used in the catch composition, other biological parameters – under the Fisheries Science Partnerships (FSP) with the industry (Catchpole et al, 2007; McCully et al, 2013).

Additional measures should be identified that can regulate exploitation of this stock. Such measures may include seasonal and/or area closures, technical measures, and tailored measures for target fisheries. Such measures should be developed by stakeholder consultations, considering the overall mixed fisheries context.

Reference Points

Last updated on 17 Nov 2016

No reference points are defined for this stock.

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 17 November 2016

The status of the stock is not known and considered as “unclear”. Catches are not reliable at a species level detail due to misidentification of species. In 2011 landings were at 1,106 t (ICES, 2013a). Stock trends are available for many stocks, but it is not possible to identify whether overfishing takes place.

Trends

Last updated on 17 Nov 2016

Landings of skates and rays in the Celtic Sea ecoregion have generally declined, and this is associated with changes in species composition and relative abundance.

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 17 November 2016

TACs only regulate the landings, and a low TAC on a low-value bycatch species could induce more discards. Because the elasmobranch species are usually caught as a bycatch in demersal fisheries, they would benefit from a reduction in the overall demersal fishing effort.

Since 2009 to 2013, a global TAC is set for ‘skates and rays’ within EC waters VIa and VIIa-c, e-k; since 2008 that species-specific landings are mandatory, namely for Blonde ray (ICES, 2013c).
Specific management measures are not known to exist for the stock. MLS is not defined at the national or EU level (Lancaster, 2010). But the NDFA voluntarily defined a MLS of 38 cm across the wing tips for rays and a closed area (the Ray box in Bristol Channel) is in place since 2005 between 1st May – 31st May, in agreement with Belgian vessels operating within the area (West Briton, 2010; Lart, 2011).

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 17 November 2016

Fishers’ compliance cannot be determined. No other issues on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing are known to exist.
There is misidentification of Blonde ray and Spotted ray Raja montagui, hindering the quality of landings’ data (ICES, 2013a).

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
Other Species

Last updated on 17 November 2016

Some demersal sharks, including lesser-spotted dogfish, may benefit from scavenging on trawl-damaged organisms and discards (ICES 2012).

FishSource Scores

Last updated on 19 January 2017

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2009 data.

The score is < 6.

A long-term management plan for rays is in development, was not implemented and has not yet been evaluated by ICES. From 2008 there are specific advices and catch limits assigned for some ‘skates and rays’ stocks but Blonde ray does not possess reliable data. Other management measures than catch limits - like seasonal closures, effort restrictions and technical measures - are being discussed and are considered to be more appropriate to manage the stocks (ICES, 2013a,b,c).

As calculated for 2009 data.

The score is < 6.

No stock assessment has been conducted. No quantitative advice is provided by ICES due to unreliable data of the stock but only recommendations on catch levels for 2013 and 2014 fishing years. A Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is not set for this stock (ICES, 2013a,b,c).

As calculated for 2009 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

Species-specific landings are not available for the stock and catch limits are not set due to lack of biological data. The species is mixed with other species hindering the quality of landing’s data. Minimum landing size and seasonal closure areas are voluntarily defined by fishermen and Fisheries Science Partnerships (between scientists and fishermen) have been running to recollect data about ray stocks.

STOCK HEALTH:

No data available for biomass
No data available for biomass
To see data for catch and tac, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for fishing mortality
No data available for fishing mortality
No data available for recruitment
No data available for recruitment
To see data for management quality, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for stock status
No data available for stock status
DATA NOTES

Notes:
1) Time-series on biomass estimates and exploitation rates are not available; respective reference points are not defined, preventing the calculation of scores #4 and #5.
2) From 2009-2013 a multi-species Total Allowable Catch (TAC) was defined for EC waters VIa and VIIa-c, e-k (ICES, 2013c). Since 2012 TACs are advised for each species. However due to lack of data, no quantitative advice is available for Blonde ray in Irish and Celtic Seas. ICES advice is based on recommendations on catch levels instead (ICES, 2013a,c).

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

SELECT MSC

NAME

Bristol Channel ray

STATUS

Withdrawn on 9 August 2011

SCORES

Certification Type:

Sources

Credits
  1. Catchpole, T.L., Enever, R., Doran S. 2007. Final Report, Programme 21:Bristol Channel ray survival, Fisheries Science Partnership: 2007/08, Cefas, 15pp. http://www.cefas.defra.gov.uk/media/75089/fspswray07_final.pdf

  2. ICES, 2012. Advice October 2012. 5.4.43.1 Rays and skates in Subarea VI and Divisions VIIa–c, e–j (Celtic Sea and west of Scotland), 63pp. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2012/2012/Rays%20and%20skates%20in%20the%20Celtic%20Seas.pdf

  3. ICES, 2013a. Advice October 2013. 5.4.29 Rays and skates in the Celtic Sea and west of Scotland ecoregion, 18pp. http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2013/2013/Rays%20and%20skates%20in%20the%20Celtic%20Seas.pdf

  4. ICES, 2013b. EU request on special management measures for skates and rays, ICES Advice 2013, Book 11.2.1.3 Technical services, November 2013, 17 pp. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2013/Special%20requests/EU_Special_management_measures_skates_and_rays.pdf

  5. ICES, 2013c. Report of the Working Group on Elasmobranch Fishes (WGEF), 17–21 June 2013, Lisbon, Portugal. ICES CM 2013/ACOM:19. 680 pp. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2013/WGEF/wgef_2013.pdf

  6. Ellis, J., Ungaro, N., Serena, F., Dulvy, N.K., Tinti, F., Bertozzi, M., Pasolini, P., Mancusi, C. & Noarbartolo di Sciara, G. 2009. Raja brachyura. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2 [ Accessed 21 March 2014] http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/161691/0

  7. McCully, S. R., Burt, G. J., Silva, J. F. and Ellis, J. R. 2013. Monitoring thornback ray movements and assessing stock levels. Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Lowestoft), Fishery Science Partnership, Programme 35, 33 pp. http://www.cefas.defra.gov.uk/media/615650/fsp35thornbackrayinivc2013final.pdf

  8. West Briton, 2010. Ray fishing agreement would be key element in serious conservation [Accessed 21 March 2014] http://www.westbriton.co.uk/Ray-fishing-agreement-key-element-conservation/story-11457553-detail/story.html

  9. Cefas, undated. Potential survey work by Cefas on the proposed Skate and Ray closed area north of Lundy, 1pp.CEfas_proposed_survey_work_-_lundy_closed_area_final_draft.pdf

  10. Lancaster, J. 2010. Conservation of Rays - Minimum Parts Landing Size, The need for change, Powerpoint presentation J_Lancaster_Presentation_2010.pdf

  11. Lart, B. 2011. Report for the Madrid Conference 16th Sept 2011, Area VI & VII Skates, ray, 7pp. Report_for_the_Madrid_Conference_16th_Sept_2011_Bill.pdf

  12. North Devon Fishermen’s Association (NDFA), 2008. Minutes of the meeting on skates and rays with the North Devon Fishermen’s Association, MFA Port Office, Plymouth - Wednesday 4 June 2008, 3 pp.Final_minutes_of_skates__rays_mtg_with_the_NDFA_4_June_20081.pdf

References

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    Blonde ray - Irish and Celtic Seas, Bristol Channel VIIf, EU, United Kingdom, Multiple bottom otter trawls

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