Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rajiformes Rajidae

Scientific Name: Raja radula
Species Authority: Delaroche, 1809
Common Name(s):
English Rough Ray
French Raie Râpe
Spanish Raya Áspera

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A4b ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-10-24
Assessor(s): Mancusi, C., Morey, G & Serena, F.
Reviewer(s): Farrell, E., Walls, R. & Kemp, J.R.
Contributor(s): Dulvy, N., Buscher, E. & Bradai, M.N.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Dulvy, N., Frazer, K. & Walls, R.

Rough Skate (Raja radula) is a medium-sized species (up to 70 cm total length) that may be endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. It appears rare in the northern Mediterranean Sea but is locally abundant in the Balearic Islands and Tunisia. It occurs from coastal waters to 300 m depth, but appears to be more common at < 40 m depth in some areas, such as the Balearic Islands. Records from off Portugal and the northern coasts of Morocco require verification and may be misidentifications of other Raja species. This skate is commonly taken as bycatch of demersal trawl, gillnet, trammel net, bottom longline, and purse seine fisheries, although no species-specific catch data are available. Given that it appears to be restricted to the Mediterranean Sea where it has recently declined in certain regions, and ongoing relatively intense fishing pressure overlaps with parts of its range, Rough Skate is assessed as Endangered under Criterion A4b as a decline of >50% is estimated for the three generation period in the European region. Further investigation is required to determine this species’ full range, abundance, interaction with fisheries, and population trends.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2009 Data Deficient (DD)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

This species occurs throughout the Mediterranean Sea, but mainly in the western region and around the Balearic Islands. It is absent from the Black Sea (Serena 2005). Reports from off Portugal and the northern coasts of Morocco suggest that its range may extend into the eastern Atlantic, but these records require verification as they may be misidentifications of other Raja species. The species is found roughly at depths to 350 m.

Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Cyprus; Egypt (Egypt (African part), Sinai); France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Greece (East Aegean Is., Greece (mainland), Kriti); Israel; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Lebanon; Libya; Montenegro; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Slovenia; Spain (Baleares, Spain (mainland), Spanish North African Territories); Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – northeast; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Lower depth limit (metres): 350
Upper depth limit (metres): 1
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Trawl surveys have recorded this species in the Mediterranean Sea in low numbers, although it may be more common in shallow waters (< 40 m depth) that are not sampled by some surveys. The International Trawl Survey in the Mediterranean (MEDITS) programme in the northern Mediterranean Sea captured this species in 21 of 6,336 tows between 1994 and 1999 at 50–800 m depth (Baino et al. 2001). In the Gulf of Lion, trawl surveys conducted from the coast to 800 m depth in 1957–1960, 1980–1984, 1992–1995 only captured this species on the shelf and slope during the period 1980–1984 (Aldebert 1997). In surveys conducted in Italian waters, it occurred in 3.31% of 9,281 hauls performed between 1985 and 1998 at zero to 800 m depth, which were all from Sardinian and Sicilian waters (Relini et al. 2000). This skate was not caught by trawl surveys in the Adriatic Sea conducted in 1948 or 1998 (Jukic-Peladic et al. 2001).

This species appears to be more common in shallow waters off the Balearic Islands (Morey et al. 2009). Ordines et al. (2011) found it in 37 of 104 bottom trawl hauls in a survey conducted at depths of 45−74 m in this area. MIGJORN and MEDITS surveys performed around the Balearic Islands at depths of 36−755 m in subsequent years (2001−2009) caught this species in 12% of 647 hauls (343 specimens) all at depths of 36–172 m (Gouraguine et al. 2011).

In the western Mediterranean Sea, this species was not recorded in 131 hauls during trawl surveys from 1996–2001 at depths of 40–1,800 m (Massutí and Moranta 2003). This species seems to be uncommon in the Levantine basin, as reported by Golani (2006) and Keskin and Karakulak (2006), who listed it as rare off Israel and north Aegean Sea coasts, respectively. This species was not caught in 170 hauls off Algeria at depths of 45−779 m (Echwikhi et al. 2012). In the Aegean Sea, a decline of 58% for the 1995-2000 and 2003-2006 periods was estimated, with an inferred decline of 79% for 2007-2015 and a projected decline of 89% into the future for the period 2016-2023, covering the three-generation period (27 years). However, it is unknown whether this trend is representative of the wider Mediterranean distribution, and the decline of Rough Ray in European waters is therefore estimated to be of >50% over 27 years.

Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

This skate is found in coastal waters at depths of ~350 m (Stehmann and Bürkel 1984, Serena 2005). Around the Balearic Islands it is relatively common at < 40 m depth.

Like all skates, this is an egg-laying species. Egg cases are 5.1–5.7 cm long and are laid throughout the year (Kadri et al. 2013), though mainly in spring and summer. Embryos develop in about four months (Stehman and Bürkel 1984, Serena 2005). Females mature at 34 cm disc width (DW) and males at 30 cm DW in the Mediterranean Sea (Fischer et al. 1987, Serena et al. 2010). Maximum body size is ~70 cm total length (TL) (Fischer et al. 1987, Serena et al. 2010). Most captured specimens off the Balearic Islands measure about 30–50 cm TL (Morey et al. 2009).

From the Gabès Gulf, length at maturity is reportedly 47.05 cm TL for males and 56.48 cm TL for females (Kadri et al. 2013). The age at 50% maturity was estimated to be 4.47 and 5.89 years for males and females, respectively. Maximum age and length were 12 years and 80 cm TL for females, and nine years and 65 cm TL for males. The generation length of this species is estimated to be about nine years.
Systems: Marine
Generation Length (years): 9

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is not exploited nor traded commercially.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

This species is taken as bycatch of demersal trawl, gillnet, trammel net, bottom longline and purse seine fisheries. There is a high level of exploitation over the continental shelf and upper slope in the Mediterranean Sea (Aldebert 1997, Massutí and Moranta 2003). In some areas such as the Balearic Islands, this species is more common in shallow waters, where it is taken in trammel net fisheries targeting Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) and teleosts (bony fish), gillnet fisheries targeting Lobster (Palinurus elephas) and Red Mullet (Mullus surmuletus), and bottom longline fisheries targeting Grouper (Epinephelus spp.) and Sparidae (Morey et al. 2006). Trawl fisheries targeting Red Mullet, Picarel (Spicara smaris) and Small Hake (Merluccius merluccius) on the upper shelf also overlap with parts of its range. In Tunisian waters (mainly in the Gulf of Gabès), this species is taken as bycatch by trawlers at depths of 20−50 m and by gillnets at depths of < 20 m (Echwikhi et al. 2012, Kadri et al. 2013). Females outnumbered males in sampled catches in gillnets; 80% of the females and 57% of the males were mature (Echwikhi et al. 2012).

In a multigear small-scale fishery (trammel net, gillnet and bottom longline, mainly), this species made up 12% in abundance of the elasmobranch capture at four to 160 m depth between 1998 and 2008 (Mallol et al. 2009). Trammel nets are the most likely to catch this species (Morey et al. 2006, 2009).

Species-specific data are commonly not available because landings of skates are grouped as “rays” or “skates”. Despite this, a monitoring program conducted at the Palma de Mallorca landing site showed that this species was the sixth most marketed elasmobranch on the island, at an estimated biomass of 6.3 tonnes in 2009. With 66.5% of this biomass coming from bottom trawlers and only 33.5% coming from small-scale fisheries (Morey and Navarro 2010); commercial fisheries are a more significant threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

No species-specific management or conservation measures are in place in the Mediterranean Sea. If this species occurs in Portuguese waters (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea sub-area IX), a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) measure is in place for all skate and ray species. In 2013, the TAC was 3,800 tonnes for this sub-area and the Bay of Biscay (sub-area VIII) combined (regulations are available online at

Research is required to determine this species’ full range, abundance, interaction with fisheries, and population trends.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.4. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.6. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Muddy
suitability: Suitable season: resident major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Unknown
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.3. Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Unknown ♦ severity: Unknown ⇒ Impact score: Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Unknown ♦ severity: Unknown ⇒ Impact score: Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Aldebert, Y. 1997. Demersal resources of the Gulf of Lions (NW Mediterranean). Impact of exploitation on fish diversity. Vie et Millieu 47: 275–284.

Baino, R., Serena, F., Ragonese, S., Rey, J. and Rinelli, P. 2001. Catch composition and abundance of Elasmobranchs based on the MEDITS program. Rapp. Comm. int. Mer Mèdit 36: 234.

Damalas, D. and Vassilopoulou, V. 2011 . Chondrichthyan by-catch and discards in the demersal trawl fishery of the central Aegean Sea (Eastern Mediterranean). Fisheries Research 108: 142-152.

Echwikhi, K., Saidi, B. Bradaï, M.N. and Bouaïn, A. 2012 . Preliminary data on elasmobranch gillnet fishery in the Gulf of Gabès, Tunisia. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 29(5): 1080-1085.

Fischer, W., Bauchot, M.-L. and Schneider, M. (eds.). 1987. Fiches FAO d'identification des espèces pour les besoins de la pêche. (Révision 1). Méditerranée et mer Noire. Zone de Pêche 37. FAO, Rome.

Golani, D. 2006 . Cartilaginous fishes of the Mediterranean coast of Israel. In: N. Başusta, Ç. Keskin, F. Serena and B. Séret (eds), The Proceedings of the International Workshop on Mediterranean Cartilaginous Fish with Emphasis on Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, pp. 95-100 . Istanbul, Turkey, Turkish Marine Research Foundation, Istanbul..

Gouraguine, A., Hidalgo, M., Moranta, J., Bailey, D.M., Ordines, F., Guijarro, B., Valls, M., Barberá, C. and de Mesa, A. 2011. Elasmobranch spatial segregation in the western Mediterranean. Scientia Marina 75(4): 653-664.

Guijarro, B., Quetglas, A., Moranta, J., Ordines, F., Valls, M., González, N. and Massutí, E. 2012. Inter- and intra-annual trends and status indicators of nektobenthic elasmobranchs off the Balearic Islands (northwestern Mediterranean). Scientia Marina 76(1): 87-96.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.1. Available at: (Accessed: 28 May 2015).

Jukic-Peladic S., Vrgoc N., Krstulovic-Sifner S., Piccinetti C., Piccinetti-Manfrin G., Marano G. and Ungaro, N. 2001. Long-term changes in demersal resources of the Adriatic Sea: comparison between trawl surveys carried out in 1948 and 1998. Fisheries Research 53: 95–104.

Kadri, H., Saidi, B., Marouani, S., Bradaï, M.N. and Bouaïn, A. 2013 . Age, growth and reproductive biology of the Rough Skate, Raja radula (Chondrichthyes: Rajidae), off the Gulf of Gabès (southern Tunisia, central Mediterranean). Marine and Freshwater Research 64(6): 540-548.

Keskin, Ç. and Karakulak, F.S. 2006 . Preliminary results on depth distribution of cartilaginous fish in the North Aegean Sea and their fishing potential in summer2001. In: N. Başusta, Ç. Keskin, F. Serena and B. Séret (eds), The Proceedings of the International Workshop on Mediterranean Cartilaginous Fish with Emphasis on Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, Istanbul, Turkey, pp. 69-78. Turkish Marine Research Foundation, Istanbul.

Massuti, E. and Moranta, J. 2003. Demersal assemblages and depth distribution of elasmobranchs from the continental shelf and slope off the Balearic Islands (western Mediterranean). ICES Journal of Marine Science 60: 753-766.

Morey, G. and Navarro, O. 2010. Monitoring of elasmobranchs landings in Mallorca (Balearic Islands, NW Mediterranean). Identification at species level and understanding of the official statistics. 14th European Elasmobranch Association, Galway, Ireland, 10-13 November 2010.

Morey, G, Moranta, J, Riera, F., Grau, A.M. and Morales-Nin, B. 2006. Elasmobranchs in trammel net fishery associated to marine reserves in the Balearic Islands (NW Mediterranean). Cybium 30: 125-32.

Morey, G., Reñones, O., Álvarez, D., Mallol, S., Riera, F. Moranta, J., Goñi, R. and Grau, A.M. 2009. Distribution of coastal elasmobranchs in the Balearic Islands (NW Mediterranean) based on artisanal fisheries surveys. In: Book of Abstracts of the 13th European Elasmobranch Association. Societat d’Història Natural de les Balears, 19-22 November 2009, Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Ordines, F., Massutí, E., Moranta, J., Quetglas, A., Guijarro, B. and Fliti, K. 2011. Balearic Islands vs Algeria: two nearby western Mediterranean elasmobranch assemblages with different oceanographic scenarios and fishing histories. Scientia Marina 75(4): 707-717.

Relini, G., Biagi, F., Serena, F., Belluscio, A., Spedicato, M.T., Rinelli, P., Follesa, M.C., Piccinetti, C., Ungaro, N., Sion, L. and Levi, D. 2000. Selachians fished by otter trawl in the Italian Seas. Biologia Marina Mediterránea 7(1): 347-384.

Serena, F. 2005. Field identification guide to the sharks and rays of the Mediterranean and Black Sea. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes, FAO, Rome.

Serena, F., Mancusi, C., Barone, M. 2010. Field identification gude to the skates (Rajidae) of the Mediterranean Sea. Guidelines for data collection and analysis. Biologia Marina Mediterránea 17 (Suppl. 2).

Stehmann, M. and Burkel, D.L. 1984. Rajidae. In: P.J.P. Whitehead, M.-L. Bauchot, J.-C. Hureau, J. Nielsen and E. Tortonese (eds), Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, pp. 163–196. UNESCO, Paris.

Citation: Mancusi, C., Morey, G & Serena, F. 2015. Raja radula. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T161339A48959781. . Downloaded on 06 October 2015.
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