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Research Document - 2012/085

2011 Evaluation of 4VWX Herring

By M.J. Power, D. Knox, A. MacIntyre, G.D. Melvin, and R. Singh/h3>


Quota landings of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) in 2009-2010 were 45,534t against a Total Allowable Catch of 55,000t for the Southwest (SW) Nova Scotia/Bay of Fundy (SWNS/BoF) component. Acoustic biomass estimates decreased by 36% for the major spawning ground survey areas in Scots Bay and on German Bank. In 2010, the fishery catch at age composition by number was comprised of 60% fish at 2 years of age, 22% at age 3, and only 7% at ages older than age 5. There was a large reduction in fish condition and weights at age across all ages in the fishery, which is attributed to poor feeding conditions. This assessment indicates a decline in the resource with reduced spawning abundance, poor fish condition and a lack of older fish in the population. The high catches and targeting of juvenile fish, which was a major feature of the 2009 and 2010 fisheries, may impede future rebuilding of the stock.

There was an increase in landings from 9,088t to 11,862t from the offshore Scotian Shelf banks, mainly due to good fishing conditions and the availability of herring to the purse seine gear. There was no midwater trawl activity in the offshore area and only limited by-catch of herring from bottom trawl gear. Herring abundance in the summer bottom trawl research survey was again at a high level with large increases in all areas except the Bay of Fundy. This survey has not been considered indicative of overall abundance due to changes in catchability for herring and a lack of year-class tracking. There was a single acoustic survey completed for the offshore area in 2010, which documented 3,500t of biomass.

The recorded landings in the 2010 gillnet and trap net fisheries along the coast of Nova Scotia decreased from 9,873t to 5,575t. There were decreases in surveyed acoustic biomass in the Halifax/Eastern Shore and Little Hope areas from the previous year. Surveys were also completed near Glace Bay, but there were few spawning herring documented and very little catch reported. No herring surveys took place in the Bras d’Or Lakes.

Landings in the 2010 New Brunswick weir and shut-off fishery were 10,958t, up from the low of 4,031t in the previous year. It is notable that, as recently as 2007, landings were 30,944t, the highest in nearly 20 years. The age distribution of fish caught in the 2010 New Brunswick weir and shutoff fishery were primarily juveniles, with 95% by number at age 2. The success of this passive trap fishery has been historically unpredictable, and catches are inherently susceptible to many natural variables in addition to abundance.

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