March 5, 2010
At the National Marine Mammal Peer Review (NMMPR) meeting held in November 2009, the impact of several different harvest scenarios on the harp seal population were examined to determine if they respected the objectives of the current management plan which ends after the 2010 hunt. These runs indicated that scenarios with a 2010 harvest of 300,000 animals would respect the management plan.
Harp seals require ice for giving birth and rearing their young. Once weaned, the young also need to be able to haul-out onto the ice to rest. Without access to stable ice neonate mortality is expected to be high. The 2009/10 winter has been characterized by mild temperatures and high winds which has prevented the formation of stable pack ice in both the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off the southeast coast of Labrador (‘Front’). This may lead to higher than normal mortality among the young of the year.
Here the impact of increased early mortality on the population due to poor ice conditions is examined. The same population model as presented at the NMMPR assessment was used to examine the impacts. The model was fitted to the lower estimates of pup production from the 2008 aerial survey, incorporated 2009 catches and projected forward until 2030 to examine the impacts of much higher than normal neonatal mortality in 2010, followed increased neonatal mortality, from 2011 on, but at levels that are not as extreme.
The intent of the meeting is the following:
Science experts (approx. 6 include internal DFO representatives, as well as invited independent researcher(s)).