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Ray, shagreen

Leucoraja fullonica

Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - All applicable methods
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Celtic Sea and West of Scotland
Stock detail - VI and VII
Certification -
Fish type - White flat fish

Sustainability rating Click for explaination of rating

This fish, caught by the methods and in the area listed above, is the least sustainable fish to eat and should be avoided. Click on the rating icon above to read more and on the alternatives tab below to find sustainable fish to eat.

Sustainability overview

The stock status of shagreen rays is unknown but landings have been declining over time. There are some positive signs of population growth from recent observer surveys in the Celtic Sea. Although stronger management is required on conservation methods such as closed areas, species-specific minimal landing sizes and more data regarding the stock is required.


Shagreen rays belong to the Rajidae family which includes skates and rays. The shagreen ray is a medium sized species growing to a maximum length of 120 cm. Males and females mature from 56 to 85 cm in length. Age at maturity and maximum age is unknown.

Stock information

Stock area
Celtic Sea and West of Scotland

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Stock information
The stock status of shagreen ray in this area is unknown because of the lack of species-specific landings data, survey coverage and its low appearance in scientific surveys. However, French observer programmes show that the highest recording of reference points are not defined and no analytical assessments are carried out. ICES advises slightly increased landings from that advised in 2015 and 2016 (186t) for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, at 210t. Reported landings have been declining overtime but discarding levels are unknown. The species would also benefit from additional measures to regulate exploitation of the stock such as seasonal and/or area closures.


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.

Capture information

Shagreen ray is caught in low numbers in mixed fisheries on the continental slope. 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. in Kent and Essex IFCA at 40cm (wing tip to wing tip). 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 not less than 22cm in the rest of the trawl. There is a potential for damage to the seabed by trawling. Trawling is also associated with discarding of unwanted fish, i.e. undersized and/or non-quota and/or over-quota species. The survival of discarded ray is hugely dependent on how the ray is caught and handled before its release.

Read more about capture methods


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.

Dab Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Flounder Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Halibut, Atlantic (Farmed) Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Halibut, Pacific

Sole, Dover sole, Common sole Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Turbot (Farmed)

ICES Advice 2016, Book 5

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