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Keywords:

  • English Channel;
  • fisheries management;
  • Rajidae;
  • skate;
  • stock structure;
  • trawl surveys

The undulate ray Raja undulata is one of the lesser-known skates occurring on the continental shelf of the north-east Atlantic Ocean. It is patchily distributed throughout its range, with sites of local abundance in the central English Channel and off the coasts of Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal. Raja undulata is most abundant in coastal waters (<50 m deep) and is often found in proximity to large estuaries, rias and bays. It is a relatively large-bodied species, attaining a maximum total length (LT) of at least 114 cm, with females maturing at an LT of c. 84 cm in Portuguese waters. Although infrequently taken in existing trawl surveys, it can be locally abundant in certain areas, where it can be the dominant skate species. Given its large size, patchy distribution and concern over the possibilities of localized depletions, the IUCN listed R. undulata as an endangered species and, since 2009, the European Union has established regulations to prohibit commercial fisheries landing the species. Given the increased interest in the species, a synopsis of current knowledge is provided, and available data from internationally co-ordinated trawl surveys presented.