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Quebec Bulletin
June - July 2015/Volume 18/Number 3

Consultations on Listing Two Skate Species Under the Species at Risk Act

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is currently considering the possible listing of the Smooth skate (Laurentian-Scotian population) and the Thorny skate as species of special concern.

Smooth skate

Smooth skate
Smooth skate.
(Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

The Smooth skate, found only in the Northwest Atlantic, is found almost exclusively in Canadian waters. It is separated into four populations that are distributed south from Georges Bank and north to the Labrador continental shelf. The Smooth skate from the Laurentian-Scotian population inhabits troughs surrounding the shallower banks on the Scotian Shelf and the deep channels of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On the Scotian Shelf, which used to be the centre of abundance for this species, both abundance and area of occupancy have declined steeply since the 1970s.

Thorny skate

Thorny skate
Thorny skate
(Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

The Thorny skate is widely distributed across Canadian waters of the Atlantic, ranging from Baffin Bay to the Grand Bank, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Scotian Shelf. Abundance of the population has been decreasing in the south while increasing in the north.

Threats
Threats to these two populations are fishing mortality, mainly from by-catch in the groundfish fishery, and predation, primarily by grey seals. If the Smooth skate or the Thorny skate were listed as a species of special concern, Fisheries and Oceans Canada would use the best available information to develop a management plan for these species in collaboration and consultation with stakeholders and partners.

You will be invited to comment on whether these species should be protected under the Species at Risk Act. For more information or to provide your comments, go to the Species at Risk Public Registry.

Please provide your comments by July 23, 2015.

Andréanne Demers
Ecosystems Management

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