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Research Document - 2012/119

Assessment of lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RST) in 2010

By A. Fréchet, J. Gauthier, Philippe Schwab, M. Beaudoin, F. Collier, and M. Way


Lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus) has a circumpolar distribution (Scott and Scott 1988). The fishery is relatively recent and it was developed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the mid-seventies.

The lumpfish fishery is short as it aims the eggs during spawning which takes place early in spring. Our knowledge on lumpfish is limited despite its important economic value.

A tagging program was conducted between 2004 and 2008. Of the 3,288 tagged individuals, only 157 have been recaptured to date. Given that the tagging activities occurred after the fishing season, the individuals tagged in one year were generally vulnerable to the fisheries of the following years.

The tagging program indicates that 72% of lumpfish are recaptured within 25 km of where they were tagged the previous year. Laboratory studies suggest that the tags could corrode and detach from tagged individuals. It is currently impossible to determine the population structure and levels of mortality based on tagging studies.

The sharp decline in landings, fishing effort and yields suggests a significant decline in resource abundance. The long-term effects on egg production resulting from spawners being caught are unknown. The exploitation rate is also unknown. Despite these uncertainties, this assessment indicates that the status of the resource is weak and likely overexploited.

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