The NSAC and NWWAC requests harmonisation of skates and rays identification guides on an EU wide basis from DG MARE NWWAC/NSAC report skates rays

The final report from the joint NWWAC/NSAC on Skates and Rays Management

The final report from the joint North Western Waters Advisory Council/North Sea Advisory Council on Skates and Rays Management held on 09 February 223 has been published.

The joint North Western Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC)/North Sea Advisory Council (NSAC) Focus Group was chaired by John Lynch and the workshop was joined by representatives from 8 EU Member States including Denmark, The Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, and Portugal. The Chair was particularly pleased to welcome UK representatives to the meeting, since collaboration between the EU and UK is essential for the co-management of these species. The duties of workshop moderator was undertaken by Paddy Walker.

Mr Lynch recalled that the NWWAC has been working on the topic of skates and rays’ management since 2009. Over the years several recommendations have been put forward, some of which in conjunction with the NSAC, particularly on the last couple of years. He explained that NWWAC members had participated directly in the 2017 workshop on skates & rays management in 2017, and that the present workshop was the follow-on from that event. “Since 2017 a lot of research has been carried out and it is time to bring all involved up to speed on the results”, he stated. “These results need to be used to make real progress on those issues where progress has been eluding us over the past years”. Referring to the Terms of Reference, the aim is to use the results from the workshop to make concrete proposals to the Commission and the Member States on how to advance the work and the regulation around skates and rays management with complete view of the co-management of these species.

Several marine experts spoke at the workshop on topics specific to their research:

  • STECF CONCLUSIONS ON SKATES & RAYS MANAGEMENT – Graham Johnston, Marine Institute – presented the recommendations from the STECF Expert Working Group on skates and rays management, which met in September 2022 and which he chaired together with Michael Gras, JNCC. Erik Lindebo participated on behalf of DG MARE.
  • ICES WGEF – Jurgen Batsleer, Wageningen University – explained the ICES assessment process.
  • RAYWATCH & RAYSCAN – Laura Lemey, ILVO – started her presentation by introducing Raywatch, a 2-year EMFF funded project aiming at collecting data on seven skates and rays species in the NWW and in the North Sea, specifically regarding the extent of discards after capture and the percentage that survive in the process. She then moved to vitality scores and showed a graph including an analysis of vitality scores for different species.
  • CUCKOO RAY SURVIVABILITY – Matthew McHugh, Bord Iascaigh Mhara – presented on a BIM research project focusing on cuckoo ray survival. He explained that this species was given a survivability exemption to the landing obligation to facilitate further research. This study built on previous vitality assessments on board, showing that this ray species performed very well.
  • THORNBACK RAY SURVIVABILITY (FIP) – Laura Lemey, ILVO – presented the results of a post-capture survival study on thornback ray caught by flyshoot in the Eastern English Channel, done in collaboration with SINAY, Nausicaá and FROM Nord, of which the latter coordinated the project.
  • BRIDGING KNOWLEDGE GAPS FOR SHARKS AND RAYS IN THE NORTH SEA – Jurgen Batsleer, Wageningen University – introduced a research project to gain better insight into the survival of rays after capture and into the life cycle and spatiotemporal distribution of rays and sharks, with the participation of VisNed and the Dutch Fishermen´s Union.
  • INNORAYS – Jurgen Batsleer, Wageningen University – explained that INNORAYS aimed at improving our knowledge-base for North Sea rays using Electronic Monitoring. The project finished in December 2022 after three years.
  • IMPROVING KNOWLEDGE OF SKATE AND RAY BYCATCH BY BOTTOM TRAWLERS IN THE NORTH WESTERN WATERS – Xulio Valeiras, Centro Oceanográfico de – presented the RAPANSEL project, which aims to improve the identification of the species caught in bottom trawling as bycatches.
  • A SUMMARY OF RECENT CEFAS SKATE AND RAY RESEARCH, WITH CASE STUDIES OF DATA-LIMITED SPECIES FROM COASTAL AND OFFSHORE WATERS – Sophy McCully Phillips, Jim Ellis, Cefas Sophy McCully Phillips and Jim Ellis gave a broad overview of the work done and ongoing by CEFAS.
  • BEST PRACTICES (AVOIDANCE, SELECTIVITY, AND HANDLING) – Irene Kingma, Dutch Elasmobranch Society – gave an overview of the progress done avoidance, selectivity and handling best practices in the context of skates and rays exemptions to the landing obligation.

The report also goes into the Plenary Sessions that resulted from Breakout Sessions.

Follow The Fishing Daily