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Industry Challenges Skate and Ray Sustainability Reporting

05 September 2013

UK - A recent report from the University of Salford, which was perceived to suggest that some skate and ray sold in UK supermarkets are from declining species, has been challenged by the UK fishing industry.

The industry, along with Seafish and the Shark Trust, is urging retailers and consumers 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."

Stocks of skates and rays are responsibly sourced, due to long-term work by the EU, ICES, The Shark Trust and voluntary agreements with the fishing industry. Catchers, merchants, processors and retailers have worked closely with the Shark Trust to develop best practice in species landed, identification and gathering robust species-specific data, and the Skate & Ray Association has been formed 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."

Reliable, peer-reviewed sustainability information is available from the Seafish skate and ray Responsible Sourcing Guide and the Shark Trust at /media/sustainability/responsible-sourcing-guides.

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