A rare species of skate is currently in extreme danger of disappearing forever, and conservation organizations are taking action.
Found exclusively in Tasmania’s Macquarie Harbour, the Maugean skate resembles a ray with its flat body and long tail. A close relative to the shark, it is grey-brown in color and covered in spots.
Sharks, rays, and skates all face threats to their survival. Losing any species to extinction is a tragedy, but the Maugean skate requires urgent protection because of its link to prehistoric times. Millions of years ago in a pre-Pangea world, the fish inhabited the supercontinent of Gondwana.
Today, the Maugean skate is one environmental event away from going extinct. Their future is so fragile that something like an extreme storm could seal their fate.
Marine conservation organizations Living Oceans and Neighbours of Fish Farming (NOFF) are taking action to help this endangered species. Macquarie Harbour’s salmon farms are the main reason behind the Maugean skate’s declining population. These farms and their products have been certified “environmentally responsible.” This means they are supposedly mindful of how they are impacting the ecosystem and taking steps to minimize any harm. Yet, the salmon farms are doing the exact opposite of what their eco-label stands for.
The conservation groups point out how the industry is destroying the environmental health of the harbour. The farms disrupt the water’s dissolved oxygen levels, which in turn affects the skate’s ability to survive.
“Simply put, greenwashing the extinction of the Maugean skate is not ‘environmentally responsible,’” states an email from Living Oceans.
In order to incite change, the organizations reached out to the Global Seafood Alliance Board and GLOBALG.A.P. Advisory Board. In their open letters, Living Oceans and NOFF requested the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) and GLOBALG.A.P. certification be revoked from the farms.
“A recent Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies report found the Maugean skate population has rapidly declined by nearly half (47%) from 2014 to 2021,” states the letter. More than 80 organizations from all over the world, including the Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation and United Conservationists, have signed to show their support.
For more information on the global campaign to protect the Maugean skate, view the official press release on NOFF’s website here. ~Claudia Minardi