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.
Council of the European Union, December 2016, it was stated that The Commission and the Member States “that the current system of management of skates ad rays under generic TACs could be improved to fully address the need to sustainably manage vulnerable species and data limited stocks and allow for the sustainable exploitation of commercially important species.”
The overall approach is to mitigate the effects of static net fishing for crawfish in general, but especially in the Tralee Bay region. This must be accomplished with the buy-in and involvement of the fishing industry.
In 2019 the main efforts will be in completing synoptic surveys of Tralee Bay using the netting methods established in 2018 and to map the spatio-temporal distribution of egg cases in Tralee.
The project partners are Marine Institute, Inland Fisheries Ireland, with contracted assistance being provided by Marine Dimensions Ltd., the Tralee Bay Angling Club and the local inshore fishermen in Fenit, Castlegregory, The Maharees and Dingle.
The project has a 2 year duration and runs between 2019 and 2020.
1. Produce egg case survey report containing the following:
a. details of the abundance and distribution of egg cases per month throughout the year in each area.
b. analysis of the local distribution of these egg cases within each bay, and likely spawning sites.
c. quantification of any possible temporal signal in spawning activity throughout the year (12 month period).
d. discussion of the results in the context of existing knowledge of the distribution and abundance of these species and their egg cases in Irish waters.
e. identification of essential habitats, spawning and nursery grounds as a basis of advice for management and conservation.
2. Report on netting surveys, covering the following:
a. Spatio-temporal distribution of species.
b. Comparison of catch rates and species diversity with previous work.
c. Identification of any mitigation measures short of closure of the fishery.
3. Submission to RIFF on conservation and management of endangered skates.
4. Restoration by means of release of captive bred specimens.
Follow the link to the dedicated project outreach website: http://raysawareness.ie/
1. Strengthen the scientific basis for the importance of Tralee Bay (Galway, Clew) as essential skate/shark habitat.
2. Develop programmes to track recovery of the stocks, especially in Tralee Bay.
3. Mitigate the by-catch mortality due to tangle nets by measures including diversification to other fisheries or activities.
4. Collected data to be disseminated including via National biodiversity database.
5. Engage in public outreach to further goals 1-3.