Pavoraja arenaria 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Rajiformes Arhynchobatidae

Scientific Name: Pavoraja arenaria
Species Authority: Last, Mallick & Yearsley, 2008
Common Name(s):
English Sandy Skate, Yellow Skate
Taxonomic Notes:

The Sandy Skate (Pavoraja arenaria) was previously referred to as Pavoraja sp. C by Last and Stevens (1994).

Most of the Australian species of softnose skates were only discovered in the past 25 years and have been described recently (Last and Stevens 2009). A number of batoid taxonomists have considered this group to be a sub-family of the family Rajidae (Last and Stevens 2009). There is still work to be done to resolve their classification as debate still exists in regard to the softnose skate classification (Last and Stevens 2009).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-02-20
Assessor(s): Heaven, C. & Huveneers, C.
Reviewer(s): Walls, R.H.L. & Kyne, P.M.
Contributor(s): Kyne, P.M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Kyne, P.M. & Walls, R.H.L.
The Sandy Skate (Pavoraja arenaria) is a small (34 cm total length) softnose skate, endemic to waters off southern Australia. It is a demersal species which ranges from Cape Leeuwin (Western Australia) to Portland (Victoria), at depths of 190–710 m, although it is mostly found at 300–400 m. It is taken as bycatch in demersal trawl fisheries which overlap with its depth and geographic range. This skate is directly affected by commercial trawling, due to having a narrow range that overlaps almost entirely with fisheries. Given the sensitivity of skates to overfishing, and a general lack of data on many skate species, bycatch levels need monitoring and research is required on the distribution and ecology of this species. Currently there is insufficient information on the population size and structure, and importantly on bycatch levels in trawl fisheries to assess the Sandy Skate beyond Data Deficient.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2011 Data Deficient (DD)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

The Sandy Skate is known from southern Australia in the Great Australian Bight between Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia (34°59’S, 114°53’E) and Portland, Victoria (34°42’S, 141°20’E) (Last and Stevens 2009).

Countries occurrence:
Australia (South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia)
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern
Lower depth limit (metres): 710
Upper depth limit (metres): 190
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There are no details of population size, structure, or trends.
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Sandy Skate is a demersal species occurring on the outer continental shelf and upper slope at depths of 190–710 m, although it is mostly found at depths of 300–400 m (Last and Stevens 2009). No specific information regarding its habitat is currently available. It reaches at least 34.3 cm total length (TL) and approximately 18 cm disc width (Last et al. 2008). Males mature at around 29–33 cm TL (Last and Stevens 2009). Like other skates, this species is assumed to be oviparous, yet little is known about reproductive output, seasonality, or other aspects of its biology (Last and Stevens 2009).
Systems: Marine

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

This species is generally too small to be traded or marketed for human use or consumption.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Demersal trawling is the main threat to this species, as it is generally too small to be taken in longline fisheries. The main fisheries that could pose a threat are the Commonwealth-managed Great Australian Bight Trawl Sector (GABTS) which is part of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF), and the Western Deepwater Trawl Fishery (WDTF).

The GABTS is primarily a demersal trawl fishery, but provision exists for mid-water trawling. The GABTS is based on demersal catches from three distinct depth regions: a continental shelf fishery (depths <200 m), an upper continental slope fishery (about 200-700 m) and a deepwater fishery (700-1,000 m) (Moore and Curtotti 2014). However, most waters deeper than 700 m are currently closed to protect stocks of Orange Roughy (Hoplostethus atlanticus) (Moore and Curtotti 2014). Therefore, the deepwater fishery is currently no longer a threat to this species, yet it may still be caught by the shelf and upper slope fisheries. Given the overlap in depth between the species and the fishery, it would be a component of the bycatch. Depending on the species and size, skates are either retained or discarded in the SESSF (Walker and Gason 2007). The post-release survival rate is unknown for discards.

The WDTF overlaps only marginally with the range of the Sandy Skate, and current effort and catch is low with only two boats active in the 2012-13 fishing season (Marton and Mazur 2014).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

No species-specific conservation actions are currently in place for this skate. A better understanding of the biology, life histories and population dynamics of skate species in general is required so that each individual species can be properly managed. Conservation measures are essential to protect the future of chondrichthyan species such as Sandy Skate. The following is a list of recommended actions that could be implemented to manage this species (modified from DAFF 2004):

  • Improve the reporting of discarded bycatch and the associated mortality rates in trawl fisheries through improved data collection and species identification by fisheries observers, as well as through compulsory reporting of all bycatch;
  • Evaluate existing practices in all commercial fisheries and implement, where practicable, new regulations or technologies with the potential to decrease both the bycatch of chondrichthyans and associated mortality; and,
  • Increase the level of support and funding for research in order to obtain critical information, including spatial distribution, critical habitats, fecundity, growth rates, age and population dynamics.

Citation: Heaven, C. & Huveneers, C. 2015. Pavoraja arenaria. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T195471A68640323. . Downloaded on 30 November 2015.
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