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Research Document - 2011/082

The 2010 assessment of the snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) stock in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (Areas 12, 19, 12E and 12F)

By M. Hébert, E. Wade, M. Biron, P. DeGrâce, J.-F. Landry, and M. Moriyasu


The 2010 assessment of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (sGSL) snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio, stock (Areas 12, 19, 12E and 12F) is presented. Snow crab in management Areas12, 19, 12E and 12F comprise a single biological population and the sGSL stock is considered as one unit for assessment purposes. Total landings in the sGSL in 2010 were 9,549 t out of a quota of 9,547.6 t. The 2010 exploitation rate in the sGSL was 36.6%. Some indicators (e.g., CPUE, mean size of commercial-sized adult males and incidence of soft-shelled crabs) showed that the fishery performance in management Areas 12 and 19 was relatively good in 2010. In management Areas 12E and 12F, the fishery performance indicators were poor. The 2010 post-fishery survey biomass of commercial-sized adult male crab in the sGSL was 30,500 t (27,400 t – 33,700 t), an increase of 17% from the 2009 estimate of 26,100 t (23,400 t – 29,000 t). Fifty six percent (56%) of the 2010 biomass was composed of new recruitment estimated at 17,000 t (14,900 t – 19,200 t), an increase of 10% relative to 2009. The 2010 residual (hard-shelled crab) biomass was estimated at 13,500 t (11,600 t – 15,700 t), an increase of 26% compared to 2009. The recruitment to the fishery is expected to increase until the 2015 fishery. The abundance of mature females increased in 2010 relative to the low values during 2005 to 2009. The 2010 commercial-sized adult male biomass level is within the cautious zone of the Precautionary Approach framework but close to the upper stock reference point of 34,000 t. A risk analysis of catch options relative to the biomass and removal rate reference points for the 2011 fishery is provided.

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