Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — North East Atlantic
Stock detail — All Areas
There are three species of smooth-hound which occur in the Northeast Atlantic. They are the Starry smooth-hound, Mustelus asterias (which is the dominant smooth-hound in northern European waters), the common smooth-hound, Mustelus mustelus and the Black-spotted smooth-hound, Mustelus punctulatus. Their precise stock status is unknown. Little information is known about the populations of Smoothhounds. Though their populations have been increasing in recent years, it is not yet known if this is driven by the surveys detecting increased populations in those areas (i.e. a northward change in distribution) or true population increases (WG2017).
Demersal otter trawling is also associated with discarding of unwanted fish and sometimes catch ETP species but capture rates can be reduced with appropriate gear modifications.
Smoothhounds are a common shark found inshore and offshore throughout European waters. Females mature at about 85 cm and males from 75 to 85 cm. They give birth to live young with 7 to 10 pups per litter. The maximum size of the species is 140 cm, age at maturity. Longevity is unknown.
Criterion score: 1 info
North East Atlantic
There are three species of smooth-hound which occur in the Northeast Atlantic. They are the Starry smooth-hound, Mustelus asterias (which is the dominant smooth-hound in northern European waters), the common smooth-hound, Mustelus mustelus and the Black-spotted smooth-hound, Mustelus punctulatus. Their precise stock status is unknown. Though, in both 2015 and 2017, the stock of the Starry smooth-hound, M. asterias in northern Europe was estimated.). There are generally increasing abundance trends in all of the survey areas and therefore, there is no concern for biomass. However, catch rates, landings data and discard data are generally unknown and therefore, there is concern for fishing mortality. Smooth-hounds have a ‘very low’ resilience score on FishBase.
Criterion score: 0.75 info
There is a generic Action Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, but there are no specific management objectives for Smoothhounds. Larger smooth-hounds may be landed in some fisheries, whilst other fisheries may land all sizes for bait in pot fisheries. There is some management related to Smoothhounds in these fisheries however, further management is required (particularly better data collection) to ensure populations are sustainable. The level of information is limited for inshore vessels which often, are not required to carry Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS). This is particularly an issue in inshore waters.
There are no specific management measures for smoothhounds. There are some technical measures to protect juveniles which require that fixed nets must have a minimum mesh size of >220 mm (EC Council Regulations 850/98).
There is a lack of catch data available for the species but data collection has improved over time. The main issue with catch data is that they are often recorded as dogfish and hounds nei or recorded at genus level (Mustelus spp.). Further studies are recommended for the species to fully understand if their populations are at healthy levels (WG2017). Although they are assumed to be a hardy fish, which can survive discarding (https://www.kentandessex-ifca.gov.uk/im-interested-in/angling/what-to-catch/smooth-hound/), their discard survival rates and unknown and can be vary variable (Ellis et al., 2014 WD in WG2017). Therefore, even if landings data improve, the true level of fishing mortality is unknown. Data used to determine the stock status of the starry smoothhound was mainly deduced from fishery-independent trawl surveys since these were the longest time-series available that was specific to the starry smoothhound.
Criterion score: 0.5 info
Smoothhounds are normally fished in the English Channel and southern North Sea in beam trawl fisheries and otter trawl (where juveniles and subadults are caught and discarded) or targeted in recreational fisheries.
Common bycatch include mixed crabs, urchins, lesser spotted dogfish, nursehound, Dragonet, starry ray, smelt and some endangered species. Invertebrates such as crabs and urchins are vulnerable to damage.
There are a lack of data on discarding rates and survival rates when discarded in both the recreational and commercial fisheries (WG2017). Smooth-hounds are taken as a bycatch in mixed demersal trawl and gillnet fisheries.
Impact on habitat is mixed as gears mostly include bottom trawls or fixed nets. Bottom trawling has the potential to cause significant impact to habitat, such as removing or destroying physical features and reducing biota and habitat complexity. Therefore, the recovery time of the seabed after trawling varies greatly, and depends on the fishing gear, the substrate, intensity of the trawl and how accustomed the seabed is to natural disturbance. Smoothhounds are generally found over course mixed sediments. IFCAs ensure bottom trawling occurs in areas where there will be minimal damage to habitats such as mobile sands.
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
Cod, Pacific Cod
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
ReferencesICES 2017. Smooth-hound (Mustelus spp.) in subareas 1-10, 12, and 14 (the Northeast Atlantic and adjacent waters). Published 6 October 2017 sdv.27.nea DOI: 10.17895/ices.pub.3177. Available at: http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2017/2017/sdv.27.nea.pdf
Sguotti, C., Lynam, C. P., Garcia-Carreras, B., Ellis, J. R. and Engelhard, G. H. 2016. Distribution of skates and sharks in the North Sea: 112 years of change. Glob Change Biol, 22: 2729-2743. doi:10.1111/gcb.13316
Sguotti, C., Lynam, C. P., Garcia-Carreras, B., Ellis, J. R. and Engelhard, G. H. (2016), Distribution of skates and sharks in the North Sea: 112 years of change. Glob Change Biol, 22: 2729-2743. doi:10.1111/gcb.13316
ICES. 2017a. Report of the Workshop to compile and refine catch and landings of elasmobranchs (WKSHARK3), 20-24 February 2017, Nantes, France . ICES CM 2017/ACOM:38. 119 pp.
ICES. 2017. Report of the Working Group on Elasmobranchs (2017), 31 May-7 June 2017, Lisbon, Portugal. ICES CM 2017/ACOM:16. 1018 pp.
ICES. 2018. Report of the Working Group on Elasmobranch Fishes (WGEF), 19-28 June 2018, Lisbon, Portugal. ICES CM 2018/ACOM:16. 1306 pp.