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Research Document - 2012/038

A pre-COSEWIC assessment of White Hake (Urophycis tenuis) in Newfoundland and Labrador waters

By M.R. Simpson, C.M. Miri, and L.G.S. Mello


This paper presents the most recent information on the biology, and trends in abundance and distribution, for the assessment of White Hake (Urophycis tenuis) in Newfoundland and Labrador waters. The primary purpose of this paper is to provide this information to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) for use in its evaluation of risk of extinction for this species. Based on genetic information, White Hake in NAFO Div. 3NOPs is considered distinct from other populations of White Hake in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on the Scotian Shelf. In Newfoundland and Labrador waters, White Hake is at its northern boundary and found mostly in the warmest waters available along the continental shelf slope of the southwestern Grand Bank, and in the Laurentian and Hermitage Channels. Research vessel survey indices of White Hake abundance remained relatively stable through the time-series and persists mainly at low levels. However, trends in abundance indices from surveys also indicate the occurrence of high recruitment events, particularly in 1999-2000 that resulted in strong year-classes and increases in area of occupancy, as well as increases in reported commercial landings during the first half of the 2000s. Relative abundance quickly declined afterwards and is presently at levels comparable to estimates prior to the 1999-2000 recruitment event.

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