Species Profile

Winter Skate Eastern Scotian Shelf population

Scientific Name: Leucoraja ocellata
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: Atlantic Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2015
Last COSEWIC Designation: Non-active
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.

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Related Species

Winter Skate ( Eastern Scotian Shelf - Newfoundland population ) Endangered No Status

Quick Links: | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Winter Skate



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

8 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the winter skate Leucoraja ocellata in Canada (2005)

    Winter skate (Leucoraja ocellata Mitchill 1815), also known as the big or eyed skate, are recognized by a flattened disc shape, greatly enlarged wing-like fins, and long tail. The upper surface is usually light to dark brown with a large white eyespot near the rear corner of the pectoral fins, which helps distinguish them from other species of skate.

COSEWIC Assessments

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - Winter Skate (2005)

    The species possesses life history characteristics that increase vulnerability to exploitation, that reduce rate of recovery, and that increase the risk of extinction. These characteristics include delayed age at maturity, long generation time, low fecundity, and consequently slow population growth rate. Narrow latitudinal ranges and a high degree of endemicity have been documented for the skate family worldwide. This population appears to have a restricted distribution, based on distributional maps of fisheries-independent survey catches. Individuals from this population mature at a significantly larger size than those in the Southern Gulf and have been reported to mature at a significantly different age than those inhabiting waters further south. Abundance of mature individuals on the Eastern Scotian Shelf is estimated to have declined by more than 90% since the early 1970s and is now at a historically low level. The area occupied by the population appears to have declined significantly since the mid 1980s. Larger, older individuals have been severely depleted from this population, producing a significant truncation in the length distribution of the population over time. The probable cause of the decline is an unsustainable rate at which they were captured as bycatch in fisheries directed at other groundfish species. They have been caught, and continue to be caught, in a directed fishery for skate, although current reported catches are low.


  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2009)

    Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of the assessments conducted pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act [fish] (2010)

    Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27(1) and (1.1) of the Species at Risk Act, hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005)

    2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Consultation Documents