Science Advisory Report 2011/008
Assessment of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence (Divisions 4RST) Capelin Stock in 2010
- Capelin landings in NAFO Divisions 4RST increased from 7,900 t in 2007 to a historic high of 12,080 t in 2009 and 10,806 t in 2010 (preliminary). Most of these landings were made with purse seines. An index measuring this fishery performance in 4R has increased since 2005 and the 2010 value is twice as high as the historic average.
- Since 2008, the purse seine quota (6,278 t) in Division 4R has almost always been reached compared to that of fixed gear (4,917 t). The allotted quota for all of Divisions 4ST (1,805 t) has been exceeded by 312 t on average (17%) per year since 2006.
- Capelin is a regular by-catch in the shrimp fishery. Based on observer data (5% coverage), 115 t of capelin would have been caught and discarded in 2010, for most of the Sept-Iles shrimp fishery management area. Since 1991, these catches have varied between 110 and 877 t. The discards are not recorded.
- On the west coast of Newfoundland, the length of capelin caught by purse seine declined in the early 1990s until 2001. It increased thereafter and the lengths measured since 2005 have been near the 1984-2009 period average. The length of capelin from the east coast of Newfoundland has declined more significantly, and since the mid-1990s, has been similar to that of the Gulf.
- Since 1990, the presence of capelin in the annual bottom trawl surveys has become more widespread in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (Division 4T). This could be explained by an increased presence of capelin near the bottom and/or by an increased abundance.
- According to the bottom trawl survey in the northern Gulf, the association between capelin and its main predators differs depending on the abundance and distribution of predators so that in recent years, this association has been linked more to Greenland halibut and American plaice rather than redfish and Atlantic cod.
- Any TAC increase in 4RST should be made cautiously due to capelin’s prominent role as forage species in the marine ecosystem (less than 10% as a total over the next three years).
- The purse seine fishing effort within each Division should be more dispersed.
This Science Advisory Report has resulted from a Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, regional advisory meeting of February 17, 2011 on Assessment of Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence (divisions 4RST) capelin stock. Additional publications resulting from this process will be posted as they become available on the DFO Science Advisory Schedule.
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