RASS Records

Cuttlefish in ICES subdivisions VIId, e (English Channel), Beam trawls

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Content Last Updated
22 February 2017

The common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) is a large commercial cephalopod that attains a mantle length (ML) of about 45 mm and a body weight of about 4 kg. They are widely distributed inhabiting the continental shelve of the East Atlantic from Mauritania to Norway and the Mediterranean Sea at depths ranging from 0 to 200 m. Cuttlefish feed on worms, molluscs, small crustaceans and cannibalism is common when prey abundances are low; and they are preyed on by other fish, marine mammals and sea birds.


Juvenile cuttlefish inhabit nursery grounds in estuaries and semi-enclosed coastal areas for the first year of life before migrating to deeper, offshore waters. Adult cuttlefish reproduce between spring and early summer, with some individuals maturing and spawning at the end of the first year of life, but typically most spawning activity takes place in the second year of life. Cuttlefish die after investing vast amounts of energy into a single spawning event. Fecundity is between several hundred to potentially several thousand eggs. Cuttlefish enter the fishery between 60 and 120 days of age (Challier et al., 2005) and live either one or two years.

Cuttlefish in Divsions VIId and VIIe has been scored a low risk. This is because the vulnerability score of 30/100 (SeaLifeBase, 2014) is relatively low compared to other cuttlefish stocks in the world and the population biomass has been relatively stable throughout the time-series.

The management of cuttlefish in Divisions VIId and VIIe has been scored a moderate risk. This is because there are some management measures in place to protect the stock from overexploitation, but the effectiveness of these measures remains unclear.  Cuttlefish in Divisions VIId and VIIe have been assessed since 2013, and the assessment is based on both fishery-dependent and fishery-independent data.

The bycatch risk of this fishery has been scored a high risk. This is because beam trawls have the potential to take relatively high quantities of bycatch of non-target and vulnerable species (> 30% of catch weight), including demersal elasmobranchs and protected, endangered and threatened (e.g. sharks and rays) species in certain circumstances.  Absolute levels of discards across all fleets have gradually decreased since 2002 and the incoming EU landings obligation is intended to reduce discarding further (Catchpole et al., 2011).

The habitat risk of this fishery has been scored a high risk. This is because beam trawls interact with the seabed, modifying bottom topography including damage and removal of some biogenic features and interacting with vulnerable marine habitats and benthic communities.  However, the risk due to damage to vulnerable marine habitats is likely to be reduced given that most of the footprint of the gear occurs on core fishing grounds.


Some spatial management is in place and is continually being developed, which will restrict the footprint of this gear on the seabed. However, there remains some uncertainty about the location of some sensitive seabed habitats so these remain at risk.

TypeCurrent Risk StatusOutlookReason
StockStable This  is because the stock is fluctuating without any historical trend, there is no discernable stock-recruitment (that is relationship between numbers of adults and offspring) relationship, and the stock is currently in good condition.
Managementimproving Stock assessment has recently commenced, and will be continued on an annual basis. Blim is defined as the minimum observed biomass during the studied period (ca. 10,000 t). The fishery is rigorously managed off French shores, but isn’t in U.K. waters, although, the main spawning ground off Torbay is partially protected by overlapping with an MCZ area..
BycatchImproving There is important bycatch of anglerfish, haddock, plaice and other commercial species and non-commercial species, such as gurnards and vulnerable species including sharks and rays. There has been initiatives to reduce discards and the incoming EU landings obligation intended to reduce discarding of target species, the bycatch risk is likely to reduce in the future.
HabitatImproving Beam trawls disturb seabed habitats, but a range of Marine Protected Areas have been established and are under development to help minimise damage to vulnerable marine habitats.

Nutrition information from 100g raw product

Rich in:
Vitamin B12
Good Source Of:
Vitamin B6
71 (kcal)
0.7 (g)
0.2 (g)
0 (g)
0.93 (g)