In recent years, lobster landings from the North Shore accounted for 1% to 2% of total lobster landings in Quebec. Landings recorded in area 15 in 2003 totalled 30 t, which is equivalent to 2002 and to the 1984-1993 average (35 t). In area 16, landings totalled 8 t which is lower that the 1984-2002 average (13 t). Landings in area 18 are very low and have reached 2 t in 2003.
Since 1993, the average annual CPUE observed during at-sea sampling in LFAs 15 and 16 ranged from 0.2 to 0.4 lobsters per trap. Mean CPUE recorded in 2003 reached 0.3 lobster per trap, which is slightly below the series average (0.33 lobster per trap).
Mean size of commercial lobster was 87.5 mm in 2003 compared to 83.6 mm in 1997, before the increase in minimum legal size. Since 1998, minimum catch size was increased by 4 mm. Although size frequency distributions occasionally show a few modes in the larger size groups, they nevertheless indicate relatively high exploitation rates. No jumbo lobsters (≥127 mm CL) were found in samples in 2003.
Over the years, berried females have been seen in catches, mainly at the end of the fishing season, in proportions that ranged from 5% to 35%. However, the abundance is generally low and between 1993 an 2003, an average of only 24 berried females was sampled each year. There was a slight increase in their proportion in the past three years. The average size of berried females is about 90 mm. Observations made in 2003 in LFA 15 showed that females reach sexual maturity at approximately 93 mm.
Egg-per-recruit production was not calculated specifically for North Shore sectors. Nevertheless, because of the large size at sexual maturity and high exploitation rates, the egg production per recruit level is thought to be low compared with a non-harvested lobster stock. Consequently, it is recommended that minimum catch size continue to be increased, in order to increase egg production.
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