Skate, Winter – U.S. Atlantic
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.