Skates and Rays

Page - May 27, 2009

Greenpeace Canada Redlist

Fishery Facts

Common Name and Latin Name Thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata), big skate (Raja binoculata), and longnose skate (Raja rhina)

Fishing Method Majority otter trawl and bottom trawl, some longline fishing.

Region of Harvest In Canada, thorny skate are fished off the Atlantic Coast while big skate and longnose skate are fished on the Pacific coast.

Skates and rays
Why is it on the red list?   Biology

1. Skates are bottom trawled and this fishing method has had impacts on benthic habitats such as corals, sponges and other structural species.

2. Skates are vulnerable to overfishing and have been overfished. Most species in the Atlantic region are of special concern, threatened or endangered. Thorny skate populations have been displaying stress in their distribution pattern, declining since the 1970s, and are currently at their lowest recorded rates.

3. Skates are vulnerable to bycatch, while at the same time bottom trawling for skate in targeted fisheries poses a threat to other endangered or overfished species.

Skates are bottom dwellers and live up to 700 metres below sea level.

Thorny skate can live up to age 16, and grow to be over 100 centimetres long.

Some skates lay eggs that are enclosed in a hard, leather case commonly called a mermaid's purse.

The vast majority of skate are exported to South Korea, and processors and buyers do not differentiate between species.