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Update of thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata) commercial and survey data
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Update of thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata) commercial and survey data
  • Description:
    The 7 species in the Northeast Region (Maine to Virginia) skate complex are: little skate (Leucoraja erinacea), winter skate (L. ocellata), barndoor skate (Dipturus laevis), thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata), smooth skate (Malacoraja senta), clearnose skate (Raja eglanteria), and rosette skate (L. garmani). Landings have generally been increasing since 2000, and the 2007 reported commercial landings of 20,342 metric tons (mt) were the highest on record. The principal commercial fishing method in the directed skate fishery is otter trawling. Skates are frequently taken as bycatch during groundfish trawling and scallop dredge operations and discarded. Discard estimates from the Data Poor Stocks Working Group were revised in this assessment based on new data and new imputation according to the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (NEFSC 2009). Differences were generally minor and mostly caused by the imputation. Recreational and foreign landings are currently insignificant. Landings and discard estimates were disaggregated to skate species by using several methods, all of which showed a decline for thorny skate over the time series. Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) indices of thorny skate abundance have declined steadily since the late 1970s, reaching historically low values in 2012 and 2013 that are less than 5% of the peak observed in the 1970s. The minimum swept area abundance and biomass in 2015 are 628,000 individuals and 843 mt in the fall and 867,000 skates and 1,264 mt in the spring. Survey indices from other surveys are generally in agreement with either a decline since the 80s or a flat survey during the 2000s. In 2014 a new cooperative bottom longline survey was implemented that is able to cover rough bottom that the regular bottom trawl cannot survey. This survey, while currently only 2 years in duration, indicates that more thorny skate are caught on rough bottom than on smooth. [doi:10.7289/V5/RD-NEFSC-16-08(https://doi.org/10.7289/V5/RD-NEFSC-16-08)]
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