Skates are a branch of the shark family, we sometimes called them flat-sharks. Some of these flat-sharks or skates are extremely rare with Ireland holding some of their last remaining European populations. The main refuges for these species are Tralee and Galway Bay.
Skates and Rays
The key importance of Tralee Bay (but also Clew and Galway) for endangered skates (and the skate-like angel shark) is well known and confirmed thanks to the first two years of EMFF work under the Biodiversity Scheme, and following on from Purse Search, IFI, ICES advice and the recent Irish Red List report. The threats to these species in the area are largely due to tangle netting for crawfish. The species in question are the white skate, common skates, undulate ray, common stingray and the angel shark.
Many of the stocks which are caught by the Irish commercial fishing fleets are considered to be data-limited or are not assessed at all. These include a number of key stone species (like sprat, gurnards, saithe, pollack, ling) and species sensitive to the impacts of fishing (like rays and skates, john dory, brill and turbot). For these stocks, the fishing mortality is unknown and MSY reference points are not established. This lack of quantifiable targets is an impediment to the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as well as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).