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Skate Research a Success

UK - A project to understand the population and movements of skate has recorded its first tagged fish thanks to a South West fisherman.

A skate, tagged and released as part of a Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) research programme, was caught 197 days after its original capture, and released still alive after its details were recorded.

The male common skate, originally tagged and released in August 2011 within ICES Area VIIh, was recaptured by a South West fisherman in Area VIIg, some 92 km to the North West of where it was originally released. The fisherman followed guidance provided by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and removed the tag from the skate, which was returned to Cefas, and released it.

Skates are vulnerable to overfishing and slow to recover from population depletion due to their slow growth rate and low numbers of young. Because they group together, skate are vulnerable to capture in many fisheries and they are often a bycatch in demersal fisheries. Since January 2009 commercial fishermen have been prohibited from retaining this species around the UK coast (in ICES areas IV and VII).

MMO says it "supports Cefas tagging research by advising on the legislation around protected species. We also provide this guidance to the fishing industry via our coastal offices.

"We and Cefas would like to thank the fisherman who returned the tags and believe this success shows that by working together we can gather the data to improve the current understanding of skate behaviour and movements, better informing stock status, abundance and management."

Lucy Towers

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