Winter Skate Gulf of St. Lawrence population
Scientific Name: Leucoraja ocellata
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: Atlantic Ocean
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2015
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: A2b
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: Abundance of mature individuals is estimated to have declined 99% since the early 1980s, and is now at a historically low level. There has also been a severe reduction in range size, which is also at a historical low. If current trends continue, this population is in danger of imminent extinction. There is no commercial fishery for this population, though declines in the 1970s and 1980s may have been due to an unsustainable rate of mortality from bycatch in fisheries targeting other groundfish species. The species has a slow rate of population growth, and the main threat appears to be unsustainably high non-fishing mortality, possibly due to predation by Grey Seals.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: The Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population of Winter Skate was assessed as Endangered in May 2005, and the Northern Gulf - Newfoundland population was assessed as Data Deficient in May 2005. The COSEWIC Guidelines for Recognizing Designatable Units (2013) were used to revise the population structure for the 2015 assessment, resulting in new designatable units. The new Gulf of St. Lawrence population is composed of the former Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population and parts of the former Northern Gulf - Newfoundland population. The remaining subpopulations of the Northern Gulf - Newfoundland population were assigned to the new Eastern Scotian Shelf - Newfoundland population. The Gulf of St. Lawrence population was designated Endangered in May 2015.
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd):
Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.
Image of Winter Skate
Provincial and Territorial Protection
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
4 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Winter Skate Leucoraja ocellata, Gulf of St. Lawrence population, Eastern Scotian Shelf - Newfoundland population and Western Scotian Shelf - Georges Bank population in Canada (2017-10-05)Winter Skate (Leucoraja ocellata Mitchill 1815), also known as the big or eyed skate, can be distinguished from other skate species, with the exception of a co-occurring species, Little Skate (Leucoraja erinacea), by its very round and obtuse snout bearing two opaque patches of cartilage, the presence of three or more rows of thorns on its tail and upper body (disc) from the shoulder region to the origin of the first dorsal fin, round dark spots on its upper disc, and generally one or more eye spots near the rear corner of each pectoral fin. Specimens that lack these spots resemble Little Skate so closely when small (21) on the midline of the tail than do Little Skate.
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2014-2015 (2015-11-20)Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species". COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2014 to September, 2015) from November 23 to November 28, 2014 and from April 27 to May 1, 2015. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2014-2015 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 1 Endangered: 21 Threatened: 11 Special Concern: 21 Data Deficient: 1 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 24 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same risk status as the previous assessment.