Science Advisory Report 2016/026
Stock Assessment of Northern Cod (NAFO Divs. 2J3KL) in 2016
- The stock is being assessed using an integrated catch-at-age model for the first time, which allows quantification of uncertainty.
- The stock has increased considerably over the past decade, but remains within the critical zone. Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB) in 2015 was 34% of the Limit Reference Point (LRP) (95% CI, 28-40%).
- SSB was estimated to be 300,000 tonnes (95% CI, 246,000-362,000 t) in 2015. The increase in SSB was the result of improved recruitment and reduced mortality rates. The increase is observed in 2J, 3K and northern 3L.
- The average fishing mortality rate from all sources was low in 2015 (0.014 for ages 5‑14).
- The average natural mortality rate in 2015 was 0.28, a decline from 0.70 in 2010 (ages 5‑14).
- Three-year projections with catch ranging from zero to five times the estimated catch in 2015 (6,900t) indicated a low risk (< 4%) of SSB declining below the 2015 value; projections also indicate a low probability (5‑8%) of reaching the LRP by 2018.
- Consistency with the DFO decision-making framework incorporating the precautionary approach requires that removals from all sources must be kept at the lowest possible level until the stock clears the critical zone.
- Overall biomass of groundfish species increased during 2005 to 2012, but has since remained stable below pre-collapse levels.
- Availability of capelin, a key prey species, has improved since the very low levels of the 1990s, but is still well below pre-collapse values.
- Predation by seals was not found to be a significant driver of Northern cod in the period 1985‑2007. There is no indication that the impact of seal predation has changed since this time.
This Science Advisory Report is from the March 21‑24 and 30‑31, 2016 Stock Assessment of Northern Cod (Divs. 2J3KL). 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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