Despite its name the ‘Common Skate’ is nowadays extremely rare.

Common SkateCommon Skate   ©

Skates are found in most parts of the world, from the shallow waters on the coast to depths of 2700 metres. They are flattened fish that look very similar to their well-known relatives: the rays.
The major difference between rays and skates is their reproductive strategy. Rays are live bearing (viviparous) while skates are egg-laying (oviparous).

The Common Skate or Blue Skate (Dipturus batis) is the largest skate in the world attaining a length of more than 250cm.
Historically, it was one of the most abundant skates in the northeast Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; hence the name Common Skate. Today however, it appears to be absent from these areas and rarely seen elsewhere. Where previously abundant, fisheries directly targeted this skate. Since then the species has been listed as ‘Endangered’ in 2000 which was then up-listed to ‘Critically Endangered’ 6 years later.

Despite all the efforts this species continued to suffer mainly due to fishing trawls that are after things like hake or anglerfish, who would simply catch the Common Skate by accident. Unfortunately, due to the popularity and profitability of trawling fishing, it is unlikely that these fishing efforts will decrease at this stage.
As a result, in 2014 the Common Skate has been declared extinct in the Baltic Sea.

The problem these and other species are facing is that they are long-lived creatures that are very slow to mature and therefore don’t have a chance to reproduce quickly enough.
It is quite a pain to see critically endangered animals continuously threatened by unsustainable fishing boats who claim not to be targeting these species in particular. It is up to us, the consumer, to become aware of these issues to try and force the industries to change their perspective.

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