Science Advisory Report  2013/047

Evaluation of Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) from the Bay of Fundy Population to Inform a CITES Non-Detriment Finding

Summary

  • Estimates of Atlantic Sturgeon spawner abundance in the Saint John River indicate low to modest population abundance, in the range of 1,000 to 3,000 spawners per year.  Current recruitment of Atlantic Sturgeon is unknown but is suspected based on the ongoing presence of juvenile fish in the Saint John River and the broad size structure of the exploitable population (at least 20 age classes). 
  • There is an abundance of migrant foraging juveniles, sub-adults, and adults in the Minas Basin (~ 10,000, c.v. 6,000-14,000).  Based on recent genetic analyses of these individuals, 62% are of Saint John River origin with the remainder comprised of fish with origins in the United States.
  • The primary source of human-induced mortality to this population is the Saint John River commercial fishery.  This fishery has been closely regulated since 2010 and is subject to harvest quotas, gear restrictions, mandatory reporting, and temporal closures. The one experimental licence that was previously authorized for the Shubenacadie River and Minas Basin was moved to the commercial fishery in the Saint John River in 2013.
  • A maximum commercial harvest of 350 Atlantic Sturgeon from the Bay of Fundy population is considered to be sustainable over the short-term (up to five years). Management measures and harvest rules currently in place should be maintained until the next assessment. 
  • Quantile values of Atlantic Sturgeon meat and caviar yields were estimated from 5,000 samples of the data drawn at random based on the Saint John River commercial fishery.  Estimated mean total dressed weight of 350 adults = 10,485kg ± 145kg and the estimated mean caviar (kg) yield from 175 female Saint John River = 528 ± 29 kg. 

This Science Advisory Report is from the January 17, 2013 National Peer Review on the Evaluation of the Saint John River population of Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) to Inform a CITES Non-Detriment Finding. Additional publications from this meeting will be posted on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science Advisory Schedule as they become available.

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