Research Document - 2007/002

Stock Assessment for British Columbia Herring in 2006 and Forecasts of the Potential Catch in 2007

By Schweigert, J. and V. Haist

Abstract

Herring stock abundance in British Columbia waters was assessed for 2006 and forecasts were made for 2007 using the new age structured assessment model (HCAM) for the major stock assessment regions and for the minor stocks in Areas 2W and 27. All available biological data on total harvest, spawn deposition, and age and size composition of the spawning runs were used to determine current abundance levels. No significant problems were evident in the extent and comprehensiveness of the data collections. However, the spawn survey for the Queen Charlotte Islands was a surface rather than a dive survey due to funding constraints and fewer samples were aged in 2006 than in recent years due to limitations on the ageing laboratory. All available data were included in and summarized from an Access database. On a coastwide basis, herring abundance decreased moderately in 2006. The estimated pre-fishery biomass was 115,800 metric tonnes (t), which represents a 36% decrease over the 2005 stock level (180,900 t). The recruitment of the 2003-year class in 2006 was poor for Prince Rupert District, Central Coast, Strait of Georgia and west coast of Vancouver Island, but poor to average in the Queen Charlotte Islands. Abundance declined moderately in all areas except the Queen Charlotte Islands. The estimated harvestable surplus of BC herring in 2007 (20% of the 2007 forecast spawning stock biomass), based on forecast abundance to the five assessment regions, is 26,202 tonnes. As was the case in 2006, both the Queen Charlotte Islands and West Coast Vancouver Island stocks are below their respective Cutoff levels and can not support removals.

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