Good Fish Guide
Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - All applicable methods
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - North Sea and Skagerrak and Kattegat
Stock detail - IV and IIIa
Certification - None
Fish type - White flat fish
The cuckoo ray in this region appears to be decreasing at present. Avoid eating this species below the size at which they mature: cuckoo ray males and females mature at between 54 to 59cm in length (nose to tail end) 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 12 years.
North Sea and Skagerrak and Kattegat
The state of the stock in these areas is unknown. Abundance is estimated to have increased after 2003 and has been above the long-term average in the last seven years, though the stock size is now believed to be decreasing. Therefore, ICES advises that the precautionary approach needs to be applied, and therefore landings should be no more than 128 tonnes in each of the years 2016 and 2017.
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 developed 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.
Cuckoo ray is an offshore species and forms an important component of mixed demersal fisheries, taken as bycatch in beam and otter trawls. 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 IFCA 40cm (wing tip to wing tip). 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 size. 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 guide for more details.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below . Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.
ICES 2015 Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2015/2015/rjn-34.pdf
Sign up to get all the latest marine related news from MCS
The UK charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife.