Research Document - 2016/010

The Status of the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) Cod Stock (Gadus morhua) in 2014

By Claude Brassard, Johanne Gauthier, Philippe Schwab, Arnault Le Bris, Monty Way and Frank Collier

Abstract

Assessment of the cod (Gadus morhua) stock of the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) is based on data from commercial fisheries, a tagging program, an abundance index calculated from the DFO research survey, abundance indices from the fixed gear sentinel fisheries program (longlines and gillnets), an abundance index from the mobile gear sentinel fisheries program and biological data. This document describes the data and methods used to assess several indicators including abundance, biomass, spawning biomass, natural mortality, exploitation rate and recruitment. It also includes a prediction of the stock trends until 2017.

The cod stock of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence remains in the critical zone and well below the limit reference point. The spatial distribution of this stock is now similar to that observed in the 1990s. The exploitation rate is currently low, while natural mortality is high. An annual harvest of 1,500 t for the next two seasons should allow the spawning stock biomass to increase. However, this increase is largely dependent on the abundance of the 2011 and 2012 cohorts, whose estimates will have to be clarified in the coming years.

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