Nature Champions: Flapper skate

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Reaching more than 2.5 metres in length, the Flapper Skate (Dipturus intermedius) is one of the largest skate species in the world. Due to overexploitation in fisheries and habitat degradation, the Fapper Skate has been in decline for decades and is now extinct in most of its former range. Scottish waters, particularly the west coast, the surrounding Outer Isles and Orkney, offer one of the last strongholds for flapper skates in the world. Indeed, the Flapper Skate is listed as a Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red List and as a Priority Marine Feature in Scotland.

Action Needed

  • Raise awareness and support further research to further understand essential habitat, threats and behaviours.
  • Implement effective management measures throughout the network of Scottish Marine Protected Areas.
  • Establish fisheries management measures to limit bycatch and degradation of essential habitat.

Threats

  • Bycatch in fisheries: It has been illegal for fisheries to target flapper skate commercially since 2009, but the large size of the species has led to high levels of bycatch by the fishing industry, particularly in trawl nets.
  • There is a further threat to flapper skate egg cases, or ‘mermaid’s purses’. These range between 14–28cm in length and take around 18 months to hatch, making them highly susceptible to incidental capture, or damage by towed fishing gears.
  • Degradation and loss of essential habitat.

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