The Context

Coordinated by FROM Nord, and funded by the INTERREG 2 Seas programme, the SUMARiS project aims at a common and European management of rays and skates, taking into account the Landing Obligation, improving scientific knowledge and encouraging good practices among fishermen.

Fishermen in the Eastern Channel and North Sea fish for a wide variety of species. A TAC (Total Allowable Catch) was introduced for skates in 2009 and includes several species. Due to a lack of knowledge, the setting of the TAC is subject to a precautionary approach. In addition, as part of the Landing Obligation (LO), fishermen must, since January 1 2019, bring back to shore the caught fish. Exemptions to LO exist, in particular if a high survival rate has been demonstrated for the species concerned. One of the objectives of the project was to prove the high survival rate of the rays and thus guarantee the conservation of the survival exemption.
Among these species studied, thornback ray is the most captured in the area of the 2 Seas.

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The Results

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FISHERY
KNOWLEDGE

The consortium has strengthened scientific knowledge on the different species of rays in the Channel and North Sea. During experimental sea trips, it carried out survival tests on French, Belgian and English gillnetters and trawlers.

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TRAINING
& COMMUNICATION

The SUMARiS project raises awareness among fishers and the entire sector about good practices and  good identification of rays and skates, in particular thanks to training sessions and various tools. Awareness actions were also undertaken with the general public.

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JOINT
STRATEGY

The development of Joint Strategy is based on scientific work and consultation between the European partners. During the project, the consortium also engaged with external stakeholders on technical measures, such as minimum sizes or the method of establishing TACs.

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results in video
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Discover

our experts’ testimony
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FISHERY KNOWLEDGE

The consortium has strengthened scientific knowledge on the different species of rays in the Channel and North Sea. During experimental sea trips, it carried out survival tests on French, Belgian and English gillnetters and trawlers.

In December 2018, IFREMER produced an atlas of the distribution of rays and skates in the Channel and south of the North Sea.
The atlas presents data on catch per unit effort and provides monthly abundance maps of major skate species in the 2 Seas area.

In 2018, FROM Nord developed a database by considering the technical specialisms(?)of scientists and industry professionals in Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. This tool brings together information on historical aggregated fisheries (2000 – 2017) in the three Member States, as well as the results of survival tests carried out during experimental sea trips and in the laboratory.

IFREMER and ILVO worked together to develop a common protocol and an image database showing the different stages of maturity and aging. They also worked on age-size keys, sexual maturity and assessment methods for rays and skates stocks.

IFREMER has developed a methodology for assessing stocks and abundance levels of rays in the Channel and the southern North Sea. Reference points are estimated to assess their conservation and exploitation status.

Thornback ray eggs have been placed in incubation tanks reproducing seasonal natural conditions in Nausicaá. Proportion of egg fertility and post-natal mortality were studied on different cycles. This study improves knowledge on rays and skates egg viability.

The consortium has organised experimental sea trips on French, Belgian and English gillnetters and trawlers to assess the survival of rays and skates species (immediate on board and long-term in the laboratory for some individuals). ILVO trained the observers who participated in the sea trips to measure survival (RAMP method).

TRAINING & COMMUNICATION

The SUMARiS project raises awareness among fishers and the entire sector about good practices and  good identification of rays and skates, in particular thanks to training sessions and various tools. Awareness actions were also undertaken with the general public.

A waterproof guide has been developed, in three languages, including optimal handling of rays on board and a description of the six most common ray species (Thornback, Blonde, Cuckoo, Small-eyed, Spotted and Undulate) and their characteristics.

During the training sessions, the professionals and high school students of maritime schools, have seen  educational resources including information on the project, fishing of rays and skates, the recognition of the different species in the 2 Seas area and their management. A quiz has ensured interactions and questions.

Nausicaá has published an identification guide for the general public, for public events such as the Festival of the Sea, in July 2019, in Boulogne-sur-Mer. It describes the different species of rays, as well as their eggs.

Play with SUMARIS! Print the paper fortune teller and test your knowledge of rays and skates.

10 video interviews were set up to combine the viewpoints of different groups with representatives of SUMARiS target groups subtitled in all three languages.

6 newsletters described the progress of the project in all three languages.

> COMING SOON

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COMMON MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

The development of Joint Strategy is based on scientific work and consultation between the European partners. During the project, the consortium also engaged with external stakeholders on technical measures, such as minimum sizes or the method of establishing TACs.

In order to establish a common management of rays and skates, a summary of all the European, national and local management measures and customs was carried out, in order to highlight the common points and possible differences, in particular regarding the Minimum Landing Size.

The document summarizes the impact of different management scenarios on the assessment of elasmobranch species. These impacts are assessed through the economic and ecological performance of management procedures.

On 16th and 17th May 2019, a two-day conference brought together stakeholders, scientists, professional organisations and NGOs. All these stakeholders exchanged ideas on the possibilities of management of rays and skates and ranked management proposals.

Following several discussions between partners and stakeholders, the consortium has established a document summarizing two management proposals at European level. The consortium aims to balance the preservation of rays and skate stocks with the socio-economic profitability of the sector.

Conference

During this conference, the partners proposed to put forward a sustainable and cross-border management strategy for ray stocks in the Channel and the North Sea. The conference brought together European and national fishermen, fish market staff, producer organisations, researchers, policy makers, local authorities and NGO’s.

Together, they discussed future challenges and opportunities and management options for skate and ray fisheries in the Channel and the North Sea

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our conference in video

Our partners

PROJECT COORDINATOR

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PARTNERS

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This project has received funding from the Interreg 2 Seas programme 2014-2020 co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under subsidy contract No 2S03-024.