Workshop to review and update OSPAR status assessments for stocks of listed shark, skates and rays in support of OSPAR (WKSTATUS)
WKSTATUS was formed to address a Special Request from OSPAR to provide the scientific knowledge basis to prepare the OSPAR Quality Status Report 2023 (QSR2023). The group met online to review and update draft assessments for angel shark (Squatina squatina), basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), common skate complex (common blue skate (Dipturus batis (=D. flossada)), flapper skate (Dipturus intermedius)), gulper shark (Centrophorus granulosus), leafscale gulper shark (Centrophorus squamosus) porbeagle (Lamna nasus), Portuguese dogfish (Centroscymnus coelolepis), spurdog (Squalus acanthias), spotted ray (Raja montagui), thornback ray (Raja clavata) and white skate (Rostroraja alba).
The assessments had been prepared before the meeting according to the Guidance on the Development of Status Assessments for the OSPAR List of Threatened and/or Declining Species and Habitats (referred to as OSPAR List in the report) as well as the Criteria for the Identification of Species and Habitats in need of Protection and their Method of Application (the Texel-Faial Criteria). The assessments covered the period since the previous assessment, 10 or 11 years ago, depending on the species. This work has resulted in tabulations for each of the species for: 1) status assessment; 2) overview of Texel-Faial criteria; and 3) an update of priority actions and measures. Information that could not be included in these tables is given as background information / audit trail for each species in Annex 2.
In the conclusions per species, WKSTATUS has commented on whether the species continues to justify inclusion in the OSPAR List. For the white skate, the information was so limited that it was not possible to ascertain a change. Data were also limited for the deep-water species, but target fisheries have stopped and recent surveys should provide new information in the future. For both the basking shark and angel shark, there is no change. The common blue skate appears to be slowly improving, but the flapper skate may be more vulnerable to overfishing. Given the revised taxonomy, it is recommended that both species be considered separately and, if accepted, listed separately. For porbeagle and spurdog progress has been made with assessment methodologies and there appears to be small improvements in the population status, but this is as yet not fully quantified for porbeagle in the entire OSPAR area. Thornback and spotted rays have increased in abundance in the areas where they were previously considered depleted, and are considered not to continue to justify inclusion in the OSPAR List for this criterion. However, measures to address selectivity and discard survival should be further developed for these species.
The output of this workshop will feed directly into the ICES Advisory process and the advice will be of relevance for the further work of OSPAR with regard to the OSPAR Recommendations and Agreements with regard to the Threatened and/or Declining Species and Habitats listed by OSPAR.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee