Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - All applicable methods
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - All Areas
Stock detail - I-IX
Fish type - White flat fish
Skates and rays are inherently vulnerable to overfishing due to slow growth rates, late maturation and low fecundity. Although little is known about the stock status or biology of longnose skate, it is likely to be highly vulnerable to over-exploitation given its large body size, slow growth, time taken to mature, and low intrinsic rate of population increase. Avoid eating.
Longnosed skates belong to the Rajidae family which includes skates and rays. The longnosed skate is a large offshore species growing to a maximum total length of 150cm and weight of 73kg. Length at maturity is above 90cm for females and 70-80cm for males.
The longnosed skate is an offshore species uncommon in UK waters. It is thought that in the Mediterranean, the species is moderately abundant with a standing stock biomass estimated at 1,899t in the western, northern and eastern Mediterranean. Research surveys suggest that it has disappeared from the Irish Sea where it was once targeted commercially. The stock status of this species around Norway, Iceland and the Faroes and in French and Iberian waters is unknown. The International Conservation Union (IUCN) assesses longnosed skate as Near Threatened (2007).
There is no specific management plan for demersal elasmobranchs and no management plan for this stock or any skate stock in the ICES area. 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 is a combined TAC in place for all species of skate and ray in the North and Norwegian Seas. Previously there was no requirement to report species of skate and ray individually so they were reported together as 'skates and rays', which makes it difficult for scientists to evaluate the stock status of different skate and ray species. However, from 2008 EU countries must report species specific landings of major skate and ray species in the North Sea and Norwegian Sea, so that in the future scientists will be able to advise on species specific catches. 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. 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.
Skates and rays form an important component of mixed demersal fisheries, taken as bycatch in beam and otter trawls, in seine fisheries and also in targeted fisheries using lines and set nets. Also targeted by sea anglers. No Minimum Landing Size (MLS) is specified for skates and rays in EU waters outside 6 miles. MLS 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 current EU legislation, where a directed fishery for skates takes place, a mesh size in the cod-end of no less than 28cm is required and no less than 22cm in the rest of the trawl. There is a potential for damage to the seabed from trawling. Trawling is also associated with discarding of unwanted fish, i.e. undersized and/or non-quota and/or over-quota species.
Shark Trust ID Guide Factsheet www.sharktrust.org
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