Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - All applicable methods
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Kattegat, Skagerrak, North Sea and English Channel
Stock detail - IIIa, IV, VIId
Fish type - White flat fish
The abundance of cuckoo ray in the North Sea appears to be increasing at present, making it one of the few species of skate and ray that appear to be fished at a sustainable rate in the northeast Atlantic. Avoid eating this species below the size at which they mature: cuckoo ray males and females mature at between 54 to 59cm in length when approximately 4 years old.
Cuckoo rays belong to the Rajidae family which includes skates and rays. Cuckoo rays are a small to medium sized inshore and coastal shelf species attaining a maximum length of about 70cm. Males and females mature at between 54 and 59cm in length when approximately 4 years old. Maximum age is uncertain but may be as high as 28 years.
Kattegat, Skagerrak, North Sea and English Channel
The state of the stock in these areas is unknown and not evaluated. However abundance is estimated to have increased. Scientific advice for 2013 is that catches may be increased by up to a maximum of 20%.
There is no specific management plan for demersal elasmobranchs. Given the regional differences in skate assemblages and fisheries, ICES recommends that management measures for elasmobranchs be devloped on a case-by-case basis. Currently these species are managed under a common Total Allowable Catch (TAC). There are also prohibitions on fishing for, retaining and landing some species, including the most severely depleted species taken as bycatch in mixed demersal fisheries. ICES does not advise that general or species specific TACs be established at present because they are not the most effective means to regulate these bycatch species. TACs alone may not adequately protect these species as there are differences amongst species in their vulnerabilities to exploitation and a restrictive TAC may lead to discarding. Instead seasonal and/or area closures, effort restrictions and measures to protect spawning grounds for example are recommended.
Cuckoo ray is an offshore species and forms an important component of mixed demersal fisheries, taken as bycatch in beam and otter trawls. This species is routinely landed under a general category of 'skate and rays'. However, recently the Marine Fisheries Agency (MFA) has issued a new instruction and guidance for fishermen and merchants to record all individual species of skates and rays around England and Wales, to help build an accurate picture of stocks of skates and rays here. Also targeted by sea anglers. No Minimum Landing Size (MLS) is specified for skates and rays in EU waters outside 6 miles. MLS is specified in some coastal waters of England and Wales, e.g. Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries District 40cm (wing to wing), South Wales 45cm, Cumbria SFC 45cm. Under EU Regulation 850/98 a minimum mesh size of 22cm is required for gillnets targeting rays and skates (those catching <70% skates and rays) in the Celtic sea (Subareas VI and VII). In 2007, Fisheries Science Partnership projects (fishermen and scientists working together) were conducted to investigate discard survival rates in trawl fisheries to find out the survival rate for skates and rays that would be discarded with the introduction of a maximum landing length. The projects also aimed to develop species identification onboard and contribute to improved data collection. The Skate and Ray Producers Association has recently been working to improve the lack of species specific data by reporting their catches by species, into a central database; this follows previous collaborative work with the Shark Trust and Seafish Industry Authority, to produce an identification guide to help distinguish different species. Bycatch of marine mammals and other non-target species can be problematic in fixed-net fisheries. However, use of management measures, including acoustic devices called 'pingers', can help reduce bycatch of marine mammals. See Fishing Methods for more details.
ICES 2012 Book 6
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