THE UK fishing industry has challenged a report from the University of Salford which suggests that some skate and ray sold in Britain are from declining species.
Supported by Seafish and The Shark Trust the industry has come together to urge retailers to be assured that commercially available skates and rays are from effectively managed stocks and have been responsibly sourced.
Phil MacMullen, head of Environment at Seafish said: “Although the University of Salford’s recent study described the difficulty in identifying certain species of ray, it did in fact acknowledge that no vulnerable species had been found in any commercial setting. We must quash the perception that there is an issue with skate and ray stocks as UK vessels are currently having their catches refused by merchants and are losing substantial income.”
EU legislation and partner work by ICES, The Shark Trust and the fishing industry as a whole is meant to guarantee that stocks of skates and rays are responsibly sourced and managed, overseen by the Skates and Rays Producers Association which aims to promote best practice.
Ali Hood, director of Conservation at the Shark Trust, said: “The Trust is pleased to see this study acknowledge that endangered species of skate are not being passed onto the consumer. This validates years of work by the Trust and the fishing industry which, since 2006, has adopted voluntary, then mandatory, measures to avoid the retention of the larger more vulnerable skate species, moving to a culture of retention of the smaller bodied, faster growing species.
“The Trust urges retailers to clearly label their products to enable informed choice, but also to appreciate that the status of a species in one sea area is not indicative of the status of the whole population – if consumers wish to be fully informed they should request information on both species and provenance."