Animal Welfare Institute

A Washington, D.C.-based animal-welfare organization is petitioning the U.S. government to list thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata) under the Endangered Species Act.

The Animal Welfare Institute called measures to protect the species “woefully inadequate,” insisting that more must be done to prevent the thorny skate population from collapsing further. Skates are illegal to land in U.S. waters under the Skate Fishery Management Plan, but “bycatch mortality and illegal landings” continue to imperil the species’ recovery, according to the Animal Welfare Institute.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies thorny as “critically endangered” in U.S. waters and as “vulnerable” in Canadian waters, where fishermen continue to target the species, added the Animal Welfare Institute.

“It is not too late to turn the tide on the thorny skate’s fate in U.S. waters,” said Susan Millward, executive director of the Animal Welfare Institute. “The best available science clearly supports federal endangered status, and the National Marine Fisheries Service should use the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act to facilitate the species’ recovery.”

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