Research Document - 2003/081

Are Offshore Summer Herring Distributions Useful Predictors of Recruitment Strength for Northern Herring Stocks?

By Therriault, T.W.

Abstract

Reduced biomass for some northern British Columbia herring stocks has renewed interest in the accuracy of recruitment strength forecasting procedures. Such a forecast has been provided annually to PSARC for the West Coast Vancouver Island (WCVI) herring stock since the early 1990s and such a forecasting tool could be developed for northern herring stocks. This paper uses existing herring data collected during groundfish research cruises in Hecate Strait to develop and evaluate possible recruitment strength models for each of the northern herring stocks: Queen Charlotte Islands (QCI), Prince Rupert District (PRD), and Central Coast (CC). The models are based on the relationship between pre-recruit fish in summer feeding aggregations (age-2+ herring) and recruit fish (age-3 herring) encountered on winter spawning grounds. Although preliminary, the results to date are promising as positive relationships between pre-recruit herring in summer surveys and recruit herring in winter test fisheries were identified for each of the northern stocks (QCI, PRD and CC). Data deficiencies and limitations are identified and recommendations for future research on the northern herring stocks are proposed.

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