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Research Document - 2011/031

Estimated amounts, species composition and pre-discard condition of marine taxa captured incidentally in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence scallop fishery

By H.P. Benoît


Catch amounts, species composition and pre-discard condition of marine taxa captured incidentally in the scallop fishery of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (sGSL) during 2006-2008 were estimated using data from an at-sea sampling program. A broad range of coastal fish and macro-invertebrate taxa are captured in this fishery. One of the most common species in the catches was the rock crab (Cancer irroratus), with an estimated 680 000 individuals captured annually (approximately one crab caught for every eleven scallop). The estimated total number of individuals captured for all fish and large decapod species, including rock crab and lobster (Homarus americanus), was small relative to indices of abundance from research surveys or relative to removals in directed fisheries. Furthermore, most of these individuals were in good to excellent condition prior to being discarded, which suggests that post-release survival may be good, at least for the fishes. An in-depth evaluation of bycatch mortality of endangered winter skate in the sGSL scallop fishery based on the at-sea sampling data was undertaken in 2010 (DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2010/043). In preparing the present document it became apparent that an error in tabulating the fishing effort for the 2006-2008 scallop fishing seasons in the original analysis resulted in underestimates of the number of winter skate captured. While winter skate catches in the scallop fishery were underestimated by a factor of 2.5, the conclusion of the 2010 document that mortality in the scallop fishery is a small proportion of total mortality remains valid.

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