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Research Document - 2011/098

Information on the Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) population of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence relevant to the development of a 2nd COSEWIC status report for the species

By S.G. Douglas and G. Chaput


Canadian Striped Bass are being evaluated by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) for the second time in 6 years. In 2004, COSEWIC identified the Striped Bass population of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence as a single Designatable Unit and assessed the population as ‘Threatened’. No decision to list the population on Schedule 1 of the Species At Risk Act has been made at this point. The Striped Bass population of the southern Gulf has generally increased from lows (3 to 5 thousand spawners) in the late 1990s to annual averages of 35 thousand spawners since 2001 and 50 thousand spawners since 2006. The rate of increase over the 18-year data set (1993-2010) has been 546%. Striped Bass 3 to 5 years old with corresponding lengths between 40 and 50 cm continue to make up the majority of the population while fish older than 6 years and longer than 60 cm are rarely sampled. Southern Gulf Striped Bass continue to spawn in the Northwest Miramichi estuary; the only confirmed spawning location for the stock, and thus maintains a small area of occupancy according to COSEWIC’s criteria and previous evaluation. The extent of occurrence for Striped Bass in the southern Gulf encompasses the coastal waters of the entire southern Gulf and appears unchanged since the last COSEWIC status report. Mortality of southern Gulf Striped Bass continues to be related to fishing activities, either illegal or incidental catches in various commercial, recreational, and Aboriginal food, social, and ceremonial fisheries.

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