Any idea what caused the wound in the following photo ?
Well, skate and rays are common bycatch in many trawled fisheries; to return the fish to the water some commercial fisherman cut a ‘handhold’ in the fish to make them easy to handle; with larger fish they will cut a slit in both wings and thread a rope through the cuts in order to lift the skate out and overboard.
Although the end result is not very pretty, as you can see the wounds can heal well; in fact earlier this year the Scottish Sun reported in an article – The return of Scarface – a skate with two such slashes having been recaptured by Gordon Goldie seven years after being caught by Davy Holt.
So if these fish are ‘as tough as old boots’ as they appear to be, why do SSACN bother producing a code of best practice and run training courses for those involved in tagging ?
Basically because we believe that handling fish should be done with respect and with as much care as possible.
Using hooks, gaffs and tags may seem unpleasant to some, but the fact is that the neat punctures these create cause lesser wounds and harm than most of those that occur naturally to the fish throughout its life-cycle – and certainly much less than those in the photo.
This has been proven time and time again as many skate have been recaptured within days or even hours of being tagged and returned; and we have records of fish which have been recaptured more than 5 times, some of these being over a period of 10 years or more.