Each autumn 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 this survey is to obtain abundance indices for the major demersal fish resources in the area. This report presents the preliminary results of the survey conducted from September 8 until October 1, 2009. In 2009, the abundance and biomass indices for southern Gulf of St. Lawrence cod remained near the record-low levels observed in 2007 and 2005 respectively, and indicate that the abundance of this stock continues to be very low compared to that observed in the late 1970s and during the 1980s. The biomass index for American plaice reached its lowest level in the time series in 2009, and the abundance index remained near the record-low level reached in 2002. The indices from the 2009 survey suggest that the abundance and biomass of white hake remains extremely low compared to the indices observed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 2009, the abundance index for witch flounder was equal to the long-term average whereas the biomass index was about one-half of the long-term average. The abundance index for winter flounder was above the long-term average in 2009 but the biomass index was below the long-term average. The abundance of yellowtail flounder in the southern Gulf was comparable to the long-term average in 2009 but the biomass in 4T and in the area around the Magdalen Islands has decreased in recent years. Bottom temperatures in the southern Gulf warmed in 2009 relative to 2008, and the area covered by waters with cold bottom temperatures (< 0°C or < 1°C) decreased in 2009 with respect to 2008.
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