Maine Seafood Guide – Skate
Five species of skate occurring in the Gulf of Maine are considered commercially important, for either food or bait: barndoor skate (Dipturus laevis), little skate (Leucoraja erinacea), smooth skate (Malacoraja senta), thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata), and winter skate (L. ocellata).
“Skate wings” are taken primarily from winter and thorny skates. Other skates are used for bait. Skates are bottom-dwelling, egg-laying fish related to sharks and stingrays.
Winter or spotted skate inhabits sand and gravel bottoms throughout the Gulf of Maine.
Little skate moves inshore in spring and summer.
Possession or landing of thorny and barndoor skates is prohibited. There are also some areas of the Gulf of Maine closed to smooth skate fishing.
Winter skate and smooth skate are at sustainable levels.
Little skate is not overfished nor is overfishing occurring.
More information from New England Fishery Management Council.
Otter trawl; groundfish vessels are allowed to land a regulated amount of skate. See the vessel and gear guide for more information.
Skate may be caught incidentally when fishing for other bottom-dwelling species.
Skate is low in fat and cholesterol. The FDA reported a single sample of mercury in skate that suggest the levels are low, but human consumption of skate is not well-studied.
Outside of specialty fish markets, skate is not readily available in the retail market, but may be encountered in restaurants. Skates, like sharks, contain urea in their flesh and this can break down and release ammonia if the wings are not properly washed and iced. Skate wing fillets resemble an open fan with elongate, striated bands of muscle tissue. Cooked skate has a texture similar to crabmeat or scallops and a mild, shellfishy flavor.