Scientific Name: Amblyraja radiata
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: Nunavut, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2012
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
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.
Amblyraja radiata, commonly known as Thorny Skate in English and Raie épineuse in French, is a relatively large skate, reaching up to 110 cm long on the Grand Banks. It varies among regions in size, body proportions, growth, and age at maturity. It is distinguished from other skates in the northwest Atlantic by a row of 11-19 large thorns running down the middle of its back and along the tail. It is usually brown although younger individuals may have darker spots.
These slow-growing, late-maturing fish have undergone severe population declines over the southern part of their distribution, including range contractions. The southern declines have continued in spite of a reduction in fishing mortality. In contrast, the abundance of mature individuals in the northern part of their range has been increasing, approaching abundance levels observed at the beginning of surveys (mid-1970s). Thus, while the species as a whole does not meet the criteria for a Threatened status, declines and range contractions in the south are causes for concern.
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 (September 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012) from November 21 to 25, 2011 and from April 29 to May 4, 2012. On February 3, 2012, an Emergency Assessment Subcommittee of COSEWIC also assessed the status of the Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus), the Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), and the Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis). During the current reporting period COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 67 wildlife species.
For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern).
The wildlife species assessment results for the 2011-2012 reporting period include the following:
Special Concern: 15
Data Deficient: 2
Not at Risk: 6
Of the 67 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 49 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment (see Table 1a).
The purposes of the Species at Risk Act are to prevent the disappearance of wildlife species, to provide for their recovery and to encourage the management of special concern species. All Canadians have a role to play in the conservation of wildlife species.
Before deciding whether the Thorny Skate will be added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk, we would like your opinions, comments and suggestions regarding the possible ecological, cultural and economic impacts of listing this population under the Species at Risk Act.
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