Language selection


Research Document 2023/018

Capelin in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence (NAFO Divs. 4RST) in 2021

By Boudreau, M., Chamberland, J.M., Girard, L., Boudreau, M., Benoît, H., Lehoux, C., Smith, A., Galbraith, P. and Plourde, S.


Since 2000, an annual average of 8,068 t of capelin were landed in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence (GSL), which encompasses divisions 4RST of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). In 2020 and 2021, the annual total allowable catch was 9,295 t and preliminary landings were 10,281 and 9,934 t respectively, principally from the NAFO div. 4R seine fishery. The performance index for that fishery increased from 2004 to 2010, and subsequently varied above the 1986–2021 time series average. The condition factor of males and females fished in NAFO divisions 4RS in 2021 was above the 1984–2021 time series average. The relative abundance index from the northern GSL bottom-trawl survey has generally been below the long term average (1990–2021) since 2012. In contrast, the relative abundance index in the southern GSL bottom-trawl survey has been above the long term average since 2010. Approximations of the fishing mortality rates from 1997 to 2021 were much smaller than natural mortality rates typical of short lived forage species such as Capelin. A new composite index of 4RST capelin stock status, comprising 5 independent indices (northern GSL and southern GSL relative abundance indices, percentage in weight of Capelin in diets of two key predators, and timing of last ice) has varied around the long term (1990–2021) average since 2016. The inferred low fishing mortality and the status inferred from the composite index indicate that harvest levels in 2022 that are comparable to those attained over the last decade are unlikely to pose a risk to the 4RST capelin stock in 2022.

Accessibility Notice

This document is available in PDF format. If the document is not accessible to you, please contact the Secretariat to obtain another appropriate format, such as regular print, large print, Braille or audio version.

Date modified: