Fishermen, scientists investigate skate mortality in scallop dredges

NEW BEDFORD, MA – Skates are a nuisance on scallop boats, where sorting them from the pile and tossing them back overboard takes up valuable crew time.

Nonetheless, several New Bedford scallopers have been participating in a study designed to better understand what really happens to these skates after they are discarded.  It’s clear they don’t all die.  So the key question is:  How many actually survive?

The two-year project, which is being carried out under the industry-funded scallop research set-aside (RSA) program, is called “Evaluating the Condition and Discard Mortality of Skates Following Capture and Handling in the Sea Scallop Dredge Fishery.”

The project is focusing on three species of skates – little, winter, and barndoor – the ones most frequently encountered by scallopers.  Barndoors are a prohibited species and by law must be discarded.  But little skates are often marketed as bait, and winter skate “wings” are sold for human consumption – but not by scallopers given their extremely low value in comparison to scallops, which generally were bringing $11-$13 per pound this summer.


Read the rest and much, much more in the September issue of Commercial Fisheries News. Read online

immediately and download for future reference.