Each September since 1971, a standardized research vessel bottom-trawl survey has been conducted in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (NAFO Division 4T). The primary objective of the survey is to obtain abundance indices for the major groundfish resources in the area. It had been decided that the CCGS Alfred Needler (used for the survey from 1992 to 2002) would be replaced by the CCGS Teleost in 2006, so a 2-year comparative experiment to calculate the relative fishing efficiency of these two vessels was planned for 2004 and 2005. This experiment would result in the calculation of conversion factors to allow catches by the CCGS Teleost to be compared with the historical time series of abundance indices for several fish species. However, due to mechanical problems and a labour dispute, the CCGS Alfred Needler was available for only a small portion of the survey time. As a consequence, no conversion factors for the CCGS Teleost are yet possible and we are unable to interpret the results of the 2004 survey in terms of historical abundance trends. In addition, the CCGS Alfred Needler was unavailable for the 2003 survey, and was replaced by the CCGS Wilfred Templeman. The fishing efficiency of the CCGS Wilfred Templeman has not been calibrated with that of either the CCGS Teleost or the CCGS Alfred Needler, so the results of the 2004 survey cannot be compared to the 2003 results. This report describes the 2004 survey by the CCGS Teleost and presents geographic distribution charts and length frequencies for the major commercial marine fish species.
Bottom water temperatures warmed slightly in 2004 relative to 2003. The area of the bottom covered by cold temperatures (< 0°C) was low in 2003 compared to the large area of subzero bottom waters that occurred during the cold period in the early to mid 1990s.
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