Guidance

Undulate Ray commercial bycatch

The European Commission granted the UK and other member states specific quotas for undulate ray in 2015.

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Key Points

  • Undulate ray caught in area VIIe is open to be landed as a by-catch by any English (including Jersey and Guernsey) administered commercial fishing vessel up to a maximum of 20kgs live weight per trip.

  • MMO is considering opening a by-catch in area VIId in 2016 but this will remain closed from 1 January 2016 until further notice

Background

In recent years prior to 2015 no undulate rays have been allowed to be landed. Since 2015 the UK quotas have been set for two ICES areas at bycatch levels of 26 tonnes in area VIIe and 2 tonnes in area VIId.

The MMO carried out a consultation in 2015 to provide an opportunity to inform how the quotas are managed. Five responses were received and the content of these has been considered in deciding to keep the fishery at a bycatch level of 20kgs per vessel per trip. This is the maximum permitted by the European regulation.

In the UK the following applies:

  1. Retention of no more than 20kg live weight per trip caught in ICES area VIIe only.

  2. Catches to be reported separately under code RJU.

  3. Provision of detailed geo-referenced catch and effort data, i.e. catch parameters (landings and discards) and gear characteristics (soak time or tow duration as appropriate)

A joint statement between the UK and other EU member states places the following conditions on the landing of undulate rays:

  1. Minimum landing length of 78 cm, maximum landing length of 97 cm.

  2. Three-month ban on landing undulate ray during their breeding season.

  3. Development of a code of good practice in cooperation with stakeholders.

  4. No transhipment at sea of specimens.

  5. Landing only whole or gutted specimens.

All the regulation and joint statement conditions must be followed by fishermen wishing to land undulate rays.

It is unusual to have a maximum landing size. This is designed to help protect more females of high reproductive capacity and so the stock size. Mature females tend to be larger than mature males.

A code of conduct for handling undulate rays has been produced by Defra. This should be followed by fishermen to the greatest degree possible.

The breeding season is assumed to be during the spring / summer so landings will not be permitted from the start of May to the end of August.