Gurnard, Grey

Eutrigla gurnardus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — North Sea, Eastern English Channel and Skagerrak and Kattegat
Stock detail — IV, VIId, IIIa
Picture of Gurnard, Grey

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

Gurnards are non-quota species and are often discarded due to low market demand. Increased consumption and demand for the species will alleviate the need to waste fish through the practice of discarding. Grey gurnard appears to be the most resilient of the three gurnard species encountered in the north east Atlantic, and is taken as bycatch in trawl fisheries in deeper offshore waters. More research is needed to obtain a better understanding of the impact of fishing on the stock and provide information for its sustainable management, especially if the species is to become commercially targeted. Avoid eating immature fish (less than 24cm) and fresh (not previously frozen) fish caught during the spawning season (April-August).


Gurnards belong to a group of fish known collectively as Trigliadae (sea robins). Grey gurnard occurs in the eastern Atlantic from Iceland, Norway, southern Baltic, and North Sea to southern Morocco, and Madeira Islands. It is also found in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. In the North Sea and in Skagerrak/Kattegat, grey gurnard is an abundant demersal species. They have a strong seasonal migration throughout the North Sea. It forms dense semi-pelagic aggregations in winter to the northwest of the Dogger Bank; in summer, grey gurnard are more widespread. The species is less abundant in the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, and in the Bay of Biscay. Although an offshore species, grey gurnard is occasionally found in shallow water. They spawn from April to August in deep water. The maximum life span rarely exceeds 6 years. They can attain a length of 45 cm, but are usually around 30 cm. Sexually mature at a length of about 18 cms and an age of 3 years (males) and about 24 cms and 4 years (females).Gurnards are able to grunt or growl by the use of muscles associated with the swim bladder, and this is believed to aid in keeping schools together.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0.25 info

Stock Area

North Sea, Eastern English Channel and Skagerrak and Kattegat

Stock information

Grey gurnard is a bycatch species in the industrial fishery for sandeel and sprat, 60% of landings of grey gurnard in 2015 were caught in these fisheries, as well as in the demersal fisheries. Species misidentification and reporting of gurnard groups continues to be a problem in estimating the landings and discards of grey gurnard. In addition, discarding is estimated to be high, ranging between 72% and 89% of the total catch. It is also a data-limited stock which means there is little information available on abundance and exploitation. Reference points for fishing pressure and stock biomass are not defined and the status of the stock with respect to these references unknown. Survey indices, however, suggest the species has increased substantially since the late 1980s.This is attributed to large effort reductions in demersal fisheries in the period 2000-2012.

ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, catches should be no more than 8813 tonnes for each of the years 2017 and 2018. If discard rates do not change from average of the last three years (2013-2015), this implies landings of no more than 1763 tonnes.


Criterion score: 0.5 info

There is no management plan or total allowable catch (TAC) for grey gurnard in this area. For management purposes, information is required on landings, stock structure and biological data in order to achieve sustainable exploitation in the longer term.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Grey gurnard is a bycatch species in industrial and demersal (33% trawls and seines) fisheries. Catches are largely discarded. There is a potential for damage to seabed by trawling. Trawling is also associated with discarding of unwanted fish, i.e. undersized and/or non-quota and/or over-quota species.


Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler
Bass, seabass (Farmed)
Bream, Gilthead (Farmed)
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, Cape
Hake, European
Monkfish, Anglerfish
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)


ICES Advice 2016, Book 6
ICES Advice 2015, Book 6
ICES. 2010. Report of the Working Group on Assessment of New MoU Species (WGNEW), 1115 October 2010, ICES Headquarters, Denmark. ICES CM 2010/ACOM:21. 185 pp.