Research Document - 2009/079

Stock Assessment and Management Advice for the British Columbia Herring Fishery: 2009 Assessment and 2010 Forecasts

By J.S. Cleary, J.F. Schweigert and V. Haist

Abstract

Herring stock abundance in British Columbia (B.C.) waters was assessed for 2009 and forecasts were made for 2010 using the herring catch-age model (HCAMv2), developed for the 2008 assessment. The B.C. herring fishery is managed as five major and two minor stock areas. Accordingly, catch and survey information is collected independently for each of these seven areas and Science advice is provided on the same scale. 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. Herring abundance increased coastwide in 2009 in all stock areas except the Prince Rupert District stock. The total estimated pre-fishery biomass for the major assessment regions was 103,470 metric tonnes (t), which represents a 9% increase over the 2008 abundance 95,076 t. The recruitment of the 2006 year class in 2009 was average for the Queen Charlotte Islands and the Central Coast, good for the Strait of Georgia, poor for west coast of Vancouver Island while recruitment in Prince Rupert was poor to average. The stock projections for 2010 indicate reduced abundance and poor recruitment in three major stock areas that will not support commercial harvest: Queen Charlotte Islands, west coast of Vancouver Island, and the Central Coast. Using formal decision rules that consider past stock status and recruitment, the estimated harvestable surplus of B.C. herring in 2010 (20% of the 2010 forecast spawning stock biomass) in the two remaining major areas is 3,100 t in the Prince Rupert area (average recruitment) and 9,000 t in the Strait of Georgia (poor recruitment). Harvest recommendations for the minor stock areas assume average recruitment and follow a precautionary 10% harvest rate: 135 t in Area 27 and 413 t in Area 2W.

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