For the sixth consecutive year, a fishery was conducted in the portion of Scallop Fishing Area (SFA) 29 west of longitude 65°30’W. Starting in 2002, the TAC was shared between the Full Bay Fleet and a limited number of inshore east of Baccaro licence holders who are eligible to fish in SFA 29 west of longitude 65°30’W (i.e., East of Baccaro Fleet). During 2006, a total of 406.1 t (307.7 t Full Bay; 98.4 t East of Baccaro) was landed against a TAC of 400 t. Average meat weights from the 2006 fishery ranged from 19.2 g to 23.8 g and were not appreciably different from those observed in 2005.
Average commercial catch rates have declined since the opening of the fishery in 2001 with the rate of decline being higher for the Full Bay Fleet compared to the East of Baccaro Fleet. Preliminary analysis of the spatial patterns of catch and effort from log books suggests that effort rather than catch rate is matching the density of scallops and as a result catch rate is becoming more similar throughout the areas and between vessels. Therefore, the decline in catch rates will in part reflect a decline in stock abundance but will also be confounded by fishing behaviour. These results match predictions from the Ideal Free Distribution predator-prey theory and are similar to those from studies of catch rates from other fisheries for a variety of species.
The annual survey indicates that biomass levels of commercial and recruit size scallop have declined appreciably since 2005 in all subareas and are at their lowest levels since 2002.
Large numbers of clappers (paired empty shells) were reported by fishermen during the 2006 fishery in subarea D. While it is acknowledged that clapper ratios are higher in subarea D for reasons unknown, there is no evidence to indicate that an epidemic was occurring during the fishery.
Very few scallops with shell heights less than 100 mm were found by the survey in subarea A. Continued fishing in subarea A in 2007 will probably be limited to scallops ages 6 and older due to limited recruitment.
The population model estimates have a high degree of uncertainty associated with them and may represent a lower bound for possible TACs (25 t in each of subareas B, C, and D). While commercial catch rates, which are not used in the model, have declined in SFA 29, they suggest a higher biomass than that estimated by the model. There was not enough survey information to recommend catch levels for subarea E. This subarea appears to offer marginal habitat for scallop. Continuing with a TAC at the 2006 level (400 t) for SFA 29 may not be sustainable in the future given that the survey indicates low recruitment for the next three or more years.
Bycatch of lobster by the SFA 29 scallop fishery in 2006 was estimated at approximately 0.12% of the number of lobsters landed by the Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 34 lobster fishery in the SFA 29 area. Of this 0.12%, less than a third of lobsters were dead or injured.
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