U.S. rejects endangered listing for skate
After a 90-day investigation, the U.S. government on Monday rejected a petition to list thorny, barndoor, winter and smooth skate under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), citing insufficient scientific evidence to initiate a review of the four skate species.
The first petition to list thorny skate as endangered was filed by the Animal Welfare Institute in early August. Then, about two weeks later, a second petition to list all four skate species as endangered was submitted by WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service combined the two petitions and then initiated a 90-day investigation. But the agency found that there is not enough evidence to conduct a review of the status of the four skate species.
“Although the petitioners claim that overutilization of skates for commercial, recreational, scientific or education purposes in the form of direct and indirect exploitation requires that the species be listed under the ESA, available information indicates that overfishing is not currently occurring in any of the skate species,” wrote NOAA Fisheries in its ruling.
“The petitioners cite out of date data, but these data have since been updated and indicate that the skates are not in danger of extinction or likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future. In addition, available information on disease and predation on skates is limited, and the petitioners do not present substantial information indicating that the petitioned actions of listing the skates under the ESA due to disease or predation may be warranted at this time.
“Regarding inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, the petitioners state that because the species-specific reporting requirements are not being enforced, the prohibition on landing and possessing barndoor and smooth skates is essentially meaningless. However, recent data show the prohibitions on barndoor and smooth skates have been estimated to be approximately 98 percent effective, and prohibited species occurred in only approximately 2 percent of landings from 2005-2010. In addition, current NMFS regulations have been adequate to prevent overfishing for all three skate species in the United States.”