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NOAA Fisheries Declines to List Thorny Skate as Threatened or Endangered

In response to a petition from Defenders of Wildlife and Animal Welfare Institute to list thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata) under the Endangered Species Act, we have now determined that listing is not warranted at this time.

The May 2015 petition requested that we list a "Northwest Atlantic Distinct Population Segment" or a "United States Distinct Population Segment" of thorny skate as threatened or endangered.

In making a determination as to whether distinct population segments of thorny skate exist, we considered the best available information on thorny skate distribution, genetics, and behavior. We considered whether the information supported the distinct population segments as identified in the petition or if other distinct population segments exist. 

We determined that the information does not support the existence of any distinct population segments of thorny skate as they mix throughout the North Atlantic. Therefore, we also assessed whether listing the full species was warranted. 

Based on a comprehensive status review report, which included an Extinction Risk Analysis, we determined that the species is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, nor is it likely to become so within the foreseeable future, so listing is not warranted at this time.

Thorny skate are at low abundance in U.S. waters compared to historical levels, primarily due to overfishing. However, declines have been halted throughout most of the species' full range, and the species remains abundant throughout the North Atlantic, with hundreds of millions of individuals in the Northwest Atlantic alone. 

Read our determination as filed in the Federal Register today.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel at 978-281-9175 or