Like sharks, the batoid fishes—skates, rays, and their relatives—are heavily fished around the world, including for human consumption and international trade. They are taken in targeted fisheries and, also, as secondary catch or discarded bycatch in fisheries directed at other species. Skates and rays comprise a growing proportion of world fishery catches of cartilaginous fishes.
A recent analysis of conservation status information for all the cartilaginous fishes concluded that the batoid fishes are more threatened as a group than sharks. They need much more attention and conservation effort. This is particularly the case for the endangered sawfishes as well as many species of guitarfish and wedgefish. Skates are heavily fished and traded around the world for human consumption. The "skate wings" sold in fish markets and restaurants are, in fact, the fins of these flat fishes.
WCS is actively involved in a range of conservation efforts for the batoids. In Gabon, we are documenting the seasonal appearance of migrating manta rays, investigating fisheries and trade in mantas, and advising on protection needs. In Madagascar, Tanzania, and elsewhere, we are supporting efforts to locate and protect endangered sawfishes, while in the U.S., we are advising fisheries management bodies and expanding outreach on behalf of stronger efforts for skates (as well as sharks and rays).