Spatio-temporal dynamics of the common skate species complex: Evidence of increasing abundance

Ryan Mc Geady, Sophie Loca, C McGonigle

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Abstract

Aim: The critically endangered common skate species complex is a large-bodied and long-lived batoid, which has experienced local extirpations and population declines over the past century mainly due to overfishing. Due to its decline, fisheries management measures were introduced to prevent further decline and fragmentation of populations. For example, in 2009, a landings prohibition was introduced in the European Union, which banned the retention of common skate onboard commercial fishing vessels with captured individuals to be discarded. We aimed to explore the spatial and temporal population dynamics of the common skate species complex, against the backdrop of changes in fisheries management measures. Location: Northeast Atlantic Ocean. Methods: We used publicly available fishery-independent trawl survey data from several regions of the Northeast Atlantic shelf to examine trends in incidence and abundance for the common skate species complex. We also constructed a species distribution model to identify changes in the spatio-temporal distribution of the common skate. Results: A sustained increase in the common skate species complex was evident in several areas of its distribution. An increase was observed in five separate trawl surveys encompassing distinct regions of its distribution. Despite the observed increase, little evidence of recolonizing previously extirpated areas was evident. Main Conclusions: The findings demonstrate the effectiveness of fisheries management measures in contributing to an increase in the common skate species complex. Such measures may also be effective if applied to numerous other batoid species currently threatened with extinction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2403-2415
Number of pages13
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Volume28
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 12 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded through the Marine Protected Area Monitoring and Management (MarPAMM) project, which is supported by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPM) with matching funding from the Government of Ireland, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Scottish Government. The authors would like to thank A. Callaway, D. Stirling, R. Langton and L. Brown for helpful data and modelling discussions. This study has been conducted using E.U. Copernicus Marine Service Information. The bathymetric metadata and Digital Terrain Model data products have been derived from the EMODnet Bathymetry portal—http: // www.emodnet‐bathymetry.eu . We also wish to acknowledge DATRAS for providing access to bottom trawl data.

Funding Information:
This research was funded through the Marine Protected Area Monitoring and Management (MarPAMM) project, which is supported by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPM) with matching funding from the Government of Ireland, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Scottish Government. The authors would like to thank A. Callaway, D. Stirling, R. Langton and L. Brown for helpful data and modelling discussions. This study has been conducted using E.U. Copernicus Marine Service Information. The bathymetric metadata and Digital Terrain Model data products have been derived from the EMODnet Bathymetry portal—http: //www.emodnet-bathymetry.eu. We also wish to acknowledge DATRAS for providing access to bottom trawl data.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Diversity and Distributions published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • Blue Skate
  • common skate
  • conservation
  • elasmobranch
  • endangered
  • Flapper skate
  • recovery
  • blue skate
  • flapper skate

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