The Safina Center

Koho salmon.Koho salmon.Photo taken by: Carl Safina

Species has a combination of problems such as overfishing, high bycatch, and poor management.
Skate, Winter – U.S. Atlantic These fish contain levels of mercury or PCBs that may pose a health risk to adults and children.

Seven species of skate – Winter, Barndoor, Thorny, Little, Rosette, Clearnose, and Smooth Skate – make up the U.S. Northeast Skate Complex. However, Winter Skate is currently the only species that is commercially caught for human consumption. (Retention of Thorny Skate is prohibited.) They are sold as wings, fillets, or imitation scallops.

Skates are typically long-lived, mature slowly, and have low fecundity (fertility), making them vulnerable to fishing pressure. Winter Skate in the U.S. Atlantic is currently at a healthy abundance, but fishing levels on Winter Skate are too high.

Winter Skates are most commonly caught in bottom otter trawls, which damage the seafloor and catch some depleted species, like Atlantic cod. Sink gillnets are also used to catch Winter Skate. Sink gillnets cause less damage to the seafloor compared to bottom trawls, but may catch endangered North Atlantic right whales and threatened Atlantic sturgeon.

Full species report here.

This species may have moderately high levels of mercury that could pose a health risk to adults and children. More info here about mercury in skate. Check out our mercury in seafood section.