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Research Document - 2013/024

Pre-COSEWIC Review of White Hake (Urophysis tenuis) for the Maritimes Region

By J. Simon and A. Cook


Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans research vessel (RV) and industry surveys, USA RV surveys, and commercial landings data were examined to determine the status of white hake within the Maritimes Region with respect to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada criteria. Collectively, the research vessel surveys revealed a number of areas of concentration within the region, while the locations of white hake observed during industry surveys and commercial fisheries; suggest that these concentrations are not likely to be discrete. USA RV surveys indicate they are widespread in the deeper waters off Georges Bank, and these fish are contiguous with white hake in Canadian waters. Abundance of immature individuals on the Scotian Shelf has declined by 60% since the 1980s, while mature abundance over the same period has declined by 77%. The total number of immature and mature individuals in Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Division 4VWX has averaged 12.1 and 7.4 million, respectively, since 2001. Although these estimates are about one half and one third, respectively, the observed estimates in the 1980s, they are similar to the estimates from the 1970s. Prior to 1996, white hake landings were unregulated. Landings on the Scotian Shelf varied between 3,000 and 8,000 t, but in 1999, a CAP on landings by gear and area, and bycatch limits were used to regulate catches. Subsequently, landings declined and have averaged 1250 t since 2006. In Div. 5Z, landings peaked near 1,700 t in 1993 and have declined to less than 100 t since 2004. Relative F (fishing mortality) on the Scotian Shelf has been stable, generally below 0.2 since 1973, and has been below the long-term mean since 2005.

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