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(Maybe) the last of the Dutch blue skates…

Last week, a fishmonger triumphantly exposed a large blue skate (Dipturus batis/intermedia) in his shop and on a market, stating “100 years old”! Maybe he was happy, but we are not. The blue skate is an endangered species in the North Sea, and catching,  landing and selling it is strictly prohibited. The skate is considered (near) extinct in the Dutch North Sea, and the last catch was a long, long time ago.

 

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An endangered 100 year old blue skate ends up as a trophy on a fish market (foto: Jan Willem Wijnstroom)

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Another endangered skate, caught, landed and sold at the fish market in Den Helder (foto: Hessel van Urk).

This did not stop a television channel in the Netherlands from bringing the news as ‘of local interest’, and despite several phone calls by the Dutch Shark Society and the Dutch Recreational Angling Union to the editors before it aired, they did not mention the fact that this was in fact an illegal catch, and therefore a crime.

Jan Willem Wijnstroom of the Dutch Recreational Angling Union (Sportvisserij Nederland) visited the fish monger, who was not aware that this was a protected species, to collect DNA of the skate so that can be analysed to establish its DNA profile and maybe trace its origin. This could help to find the last remaining populations/breeding grounds if these still exist in the Dutch North Sea.

Today, we read there was another blue skate landed and sold in Den Helder. Again: no one seemed to be aware of the catch and landing restrictions of this endangered species. This was even published on a website the fishing industry, without any comments about its endangered status . Astonishing, as they should be aware of allowable quota and the applicable laws and regulations, both on a national and European level.

This is bad news for elasmobranchs: it seems all protected species can be caught, landed and sold without authorities stepping in. The inspector who saw the first skate, claimed not to be know which species it was, though bystanders said it was he blue skate. Before the inspector had indeed determined was a blue skate, the animal was sold and transported.

The goods news is, that there seem to be some skates in the North Sea again. Let us hope, they will not all be caught in the nets of fishermen, who do not abide regulations.

See a blue skate swim under water:

 

 

More info:
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/39397/0
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:02014R0043-20140504
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32011R0057
 

 

 

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