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Raja eglanteria

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA CHONDRICHTHYES RAJIFORMES RAJIDAE

Scientific Name: Raja eglanteria
Species Authority: Bosc, 1800
Common Name(s):
English Clearnose Skate
Taxonomic Notes: This species is one of an undescribed genus for the 'Amphi-American Assemblage' of McEachran and Dunn (1998), including mostly Raja-like species from the Western Atlantic and Eastern Pacific.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2008-12-01
Assessor(s): Ha, D., Luer, C. & Sulikowski, J.
Reviewer(s): Dulvy, N.K. & Valenti, S.V. (Shark Red List Authority)
Justification:
This skate is endemic to the Northwest and Western Central Atlantic, occurring from Massachusetts to southern Florida and in the eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico. It is found primarily found in inshore areas (at <111 m depth), but ranges from saltwater estuaries to depths of 330 m. The primary threat to this species is capture as bycatch of otter trawls during groundfish trawling and scallop dredge operations. Age data for this species are old, but suggest that females mature at 4–6 years (the three generation period for this species may therefore be ~18 years). National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) trawl surveys indicate that biomass of this species has steadily decreased over the last five years. Analysis of trends in abundance of this species in six different scientific surveys on the eastern coast of the USA (during various periods from 1966–2005), found it to be increasing in three surveys, decreasing in one, with no apparent trend in two others. The NMFS does not consider this species overfished in its 2006 assessment and, given that the overall population trend does not appear to be declining this species is assessed as Least Concern. However, the declines observed in some areas, coupled with the species’ potentially limiting life-history characteristics suggests that population trends should be carefully monitored. Further research on this species’ life-history and population structure is also required.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Northwest and western central Atlantic: found from Massachusetts to southern Florida and eastern and northern Gulf of Mexico. However, this species is rarely captured north of Cape Cod (Packer et al. 2003).
Countries:
Native:
United States (Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Native:
Atlantic – northwest; Atlantic – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: No detailed information on population size or subpopulations exists, however, maximum size and size at maturity varies with latitude, the largest individuals occur at highest latitudes (McEachran 2002).The biomass of this species has steadily decreased over the last five years, over its reported range (NEFMC 2006). Average catch rates of this species during NMFS trawl surveys decreased from 0.75 kg/tow in 2002–2004 to 0.63 kg/tow in 2003–2005 (NEFMC 2006). Although the NMFS does not consider this species overfished in its 2006 assessment, the steady decline in biomass during the past five years, coupled with the species’ potentially limiting life-history characteristics suggests that population trends should be carefully monitored. The 2006 NMFS assessment made no projections or forecasts of expected future population trends, and fishing pressure is continuing. Myers et al. (2007) examined trends in abundance for this species along the eastern coast of the USA, from six different surveys and found it to be increasing in three surveys during 1984–2004, 1967–2005, and 1974–2005 (statistically significant, <0.0001), decreasing in one survey during 1966–2004 (statistically significant, <0.0001), with no apparent trend in two others during 1989–2005 and 1988–2004.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This skate prefers inshore areas and is found from saltwater estuaries to depths of 330 m. However, it is most abundant at depths et al. 2003). This species prefers inshore areas of 10–21°C and feeds mainly on decapod crustaceans, bivalves, polychaetes, squids and fishes. It breeds inshore, and reproduction is oviparous, like other skates, with oblong egg capsules deposited in sandy or muddy flats.

Both males and females are reported to mature at 49–58 cm total length (TL) (Fitz and Diaber 1963). Females are reported to mature at four to six years of age, and males at two to four years (Fitz and Diaber 1963). Longevity is >5 years (Fitz and Diaber 1963). The species reaches a maximum size of 84 cm TL (Fitz and Diaber 1963) and size at birth is 12–15 cm (Luer pers comm.).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The principal commercial fishing method that affects this species of skate (or any other skate species for that matter) is otter trawling. Although no directed fishery exists for this species, this skate is frequently taken as bycatch during groundfish trawling and scallop dredge operations (Packer et al. 2003). However, the quantitative impacts of this fishing method on this species is unknown at this time. Discarded recreational and foreign landings are currently insignificant, at <1% of the total fishery landings (Packer et al. 2003). In the past, imprecise reporting of fishery statistics combined skate species under one category. This has made assessment and monitoring of directed and indirect fishing pressure impossible. However, this has recently changed and should allow for the assessment of individual species and the impacts of commercial fishing practices on their populations.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: None in place.

Recommended: Biological data for this species is over 50 years old. Before any further recommendation can be made, more life history studies (including age, growth, maturity, and fecundity studies) are necessary. Studies of stock structure are also needed to identify unit stocks.

Citation: Ha, D., Luer, C. & Sulikowski, J. 2009. Raja eglanteria. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 September 2014.
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