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Research Document 2023/059

The 2022 assessment of the Snow Crab (Chionoecetes opilio) stock in the southern Gulf of Saint Lawrence (Areas 12, 12E, 12F and 19)

By Surette, T., and Chassé, J.


Stock status of southern Gulf of Saint Lawrence (sGSL) snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) in 2022 is in the healthy zone, based on defined reference points. A commercial biomass of 85,532 tonnes (t) is projected for 2023. Fishery recruitment biomass is estimated at 68,348 t, while the residual biomass was estimated at 17,388 t. Based on the harvest decision rule the commercial biomass estimate corresponds to a target exploitation rate of 41.79% and a catch option of 35,745 t for the 2023 fishery. For this catch option, a risk analysis indicates that there is a very low likelihood that the residual biomass would be below the limit reference point and a very high likelihood that the 2023 commercial stock biomass would remain above the upper stock reference point. Population recruitment and spawning stock abundance remain at high levels. Warming bottom temperatures remain a cause for concern, with crab densities in areas along the margins of the sGSL showing marked declines in recent years.

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