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Leucoraja fullonica

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA CHONDRICHTHYES RAJIFORMES RAJIDAE

Scientific Name: Leucoraja fullonica
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Shagreen Ray
Synonym(s):
Raja fullonica Linnaeus, 1758

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2006-02-14
Assessor(s): Ellis, J., Ungaro, N., Serena, F., Dulvy, N., Tinti, F., Bertozzi, M., Pasolini, P., Mancusi, C. & Notarbartolo di Sciara, G.
Reviewer(s): Cavanagh, R.D., Kulka, D.W. & Valenti, S.V. (Shark Red List Authority)
Justification:
The Shagreen Ray (Leucoraja fullonica) appears to be comparatively rare in the northeast Atlantic and very rare in the Mediterranean Sea. It is an offshore species, usually occurring on the outer parts of the continental shelf, at depths of 30–550 m, although it has rarely been recorded deeper in the Mediterranean Sea. Very few data are available on this species in the Mediterranean Sea, where it was recorded in only seven out of 6,336 tows during MEDITS research surveys in the northern Mediterranean at depths ranging from 10–800 m. The species is taken as bycatch in demersal trawl and longline fisheries throughout much of its range. Reported French landings for this species were more than 370 tonnes in 1983, but since 1984 annual landings have been more stable and averaged about 75 tonnes. Trends in surveys are difficult to determine accurately due in part to limited time-series data for this species, and given some uncertainty in the taxonomic identification in earlier surveys. English (Cefas) surveys in the North Sea have not recorded this species since 1998, though Scottish (FRS) surveys continue to record it in various surveys around Scotland. Given the low numbers caught in surveys in offshore shelf habitats, it is possible that the main part of the distribution is now in deeper water, such as along the edge of the continental shelf. Indeed, most of the recent captures of this species in Scottish surveys have been made in waters more than 200 m deep. Nevertheless, due to temporal changes in surveys (areas/gears) over the extensive period covered by Scottish surveys, accurate trends in abundance are hard to determine. Much like with Leucoraja circularis, the distribution may have contracted (or shifted) to deeper waters. However, there is uncertainty in the magnitude of any decline in abundance for the population as a whole and the Shagreen Ray appears slightly more common than L. circularis and is slightly smaller in body-size. The Shagreen Ray is currently assessed as Near Threatened on the basis of continuing population declines approaching 30% (close to meeting the criteria for Vulnerable A2bcd). Further analyses of survey data and close monitoring are required to elucidate the long-term distribution and relative abundance of this species.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Northeast Atlantic: occurs in the offshore waters of the continental shelf from Madeira and northern Morocco northwards to Iceland, Faeroe Islands and Norway, including the Skagerrak (Stehmann and Burkel 1984). It is an offshore species usually occurring on the outer parts of the continental shelf, and, in the northern part of its range, is typically encountered in the northern North Sea, off North-west Scotland, west of Ireland and Celtic Sea. It does not usually occur in shallower areas (e.g. southern North Sea and Irish Sea).

Mediterranean Sea: western and central-eastern Mediterranean to Tunisia and western coasts of Greece (except the Adriatic Sea). Countries of occurrence; Algeria, France, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia (Bauchot 1987, Bertrand et al. 2000, Marano et al. in press, Relini et al. 2000, Stehmann and Burkel 1984, Tinti et al. 2003).
Countries:
Native:
Algeria; Belgium; Denmark; Faroe Islands; France; Germany; Greece; Iceland; Italy; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Portugal; Spain; Tunisia
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Atlantic – eastern central; Atlantic – northeast; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Accurate determination of abundance trends in the northeast Atlantic are not possible, as most earlier surveys have focused on shelf fishing grounds, with no long-term, standardised surveys sampling off the edge of the continental shelf. Reported French landings for this species were more than 370 tonnes in 1983, but since 1984 annual landings have been more stable and averaged about 75 tonnes. Species-specific landings data prior to this are not available. Trends in surveys are difficult to determine accurately due in part to limited time-series data for this species, and given some uncertainty in the taxonomic identification in earlier survey. English (Cefas) surveys in the North Sea have not recorded this species since 1998, though occasional specimens are taken in the Celtic Sea. Scottish (FRS) surveys continue to record shagreen ray in various surveys around Scotland. Given the low numbers caught in surveys in offshore shelf habitats, it is possible that the main part of the distribution is now in deeper water, such as along the edge of the continental shelf. Indeed, most of the recent captures of this species in Scottish surveys have been made in waters deeper than 200 m.

This species was captured in only seven of 6,336 tows (between 200–800 m depth) of the MEDITS research trawl surveys performed throughout the northern Mediterranean Sea from 1994–1999 in depths ranging from 10–800 m (Baino et al. 2001). The MEDITS trawl survey covers the north Mediterranean coast almost continuously from western Morocco and Spain in the west Mediterranean to the Aegean Sea in the eastern Mediterranean (Baino et al. 2001). Leucoraja fullonica was not captured in the Gulf of Lions, eastern Mediterranean in a time series of comparative trawl surveys. This time series runs from 1957–1995 and consists of eight separate surveys conducted by a four different of survey vessels (Aldebert 1997). A total of 1,359 tows were conducted in shelf and slope areas between depths from the coast down to 800 m, which includes the known depth range of this species (Aldebert 1997). Leucoraja fullonica was not captured in either recent or historical surveys of the Adriatic Sea (Jukic-Peladic 1999). Trawl surveys in the south Ligurian and north Thyrrenian seas suggest that the species is rare there, with few specimens captured between 1985 and 2004 (at depths of 366–549 m) (Serena et al. 2005).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Benthic in offshore shelf waters and on upper slopes, generally in waters of 30–550 m depth (Stehmann and Bürkel 1984, Ellis et al. 2005a). It is found mainly at depths of around 200 m on sandy and coarse bottoms. In the Mediterranean, this species occurs in relatively cold coastal waters and on upper parts of continental slopes in about 30–550 m, but has also been captured in deeper water down to 800 m (Baino et al. 2001, Bertrand et al. 2000, Stehmann and Burkel 1987). This species reaches a maximum size of 100–110 cm (Bauchot 1987). Reproduction is oviparous, like other skates, and egg-cases measure about 8 cm by 5 cm excluding horns (Stehmann and Burkel 1984).

Little is known of the life-history parameters of this species. Age and size at maturity, longevity, size at birth, reproductive age, gestation time, reproductive periodicity, fecundity, rate of population increase and natural mortality are all unknown. Leucoraja fullonica feeds on a variety of bottom-dwelling animals, and is thought to mainly eat fish.
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Taken as a bycatch in mixed demersal fisheries through much of its range. This species is a bycatch in mixed trawl fisheries operating in the outer parts and edge of the continental shelf in the northeast Atlantic. It may also be taken as a bycatch in gillnet fisheries targeting anglerfish and longline fisheries targeting hake, though information on the catches in these fisheries are poor. The potential threat of deepwater fisheries within the deeper part of the species range is also a possible cause for concern. Due to its offshore habitat, it is of no importance to recreational fisheries. The relatively large body-size (100 cm) would also indicate that this species is vulnerable to over-fishing.

Leucoraja fullonica occurs within the range of multispecies trawl fisheries operating on the continental shelf and slope of the Mediterranean sea. It is caught as bycatch by both bottom trawl and longline fisheries there also (Stehmann and Burkel 1984, Serena 2005).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Though there are no species-specific management measures for this species, there is a TAC for skates and rays in the North Sea and adjacent waters, and they may benefit from more generic management measures for demersal fisheries (e.g. mesh size regulations, effort reduction).

In the Mediterranean Sea, this rare species (as well as other skates) may benefit from designated non-trawling areas to protect a fraction of the adult population and eggs (often found in the trawl cod-end) (Ragonese et al. 2003).

Citation: Ellis, J., Ungaro, N., Serena, F., Dulvy, N., Tinti, F., Bertozzi, M., Pasolini, P., Mancusi, C. & Notarbartolo di Sciara, G. 2009. Leucoraja fullonica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 25 October 2014.
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