Science Advisory Report 2011/063
Assessment of the sea cucumber fishery in the Estuary and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence from 2008 to 2010
- The sea cucumber fishery began in Quebec in 2008 and is still in the exploratory stage. Landings amounted to 676 t in 2010, most of which came from Unit C on the Gaspé Peninsula’s north shore and from Unit HSP (Havre-Saint-Pierre) in the Mingan region.
- The mean CPUE was comparable in all units in 2009 and 2010 except Unit B on the Gaspé Peninsula’s north shore, where effort was reduced in the spring and concentrated at the end of the season.
- The mean size of sea cucumbers caught by dredging was greater than 130 mm in all units. Over 70% of sea cucumbers caught measured over 100 mm, which corresponds to the estimated minimum size at sexual maturity.
- Heterogeneity in sea cucumber abundance was observed all across the study areas, both in the commercial fishery and in the research survey conducted in the Mingan region in 2010. The largest concentrations were observed in the western Mingan region.
- The research survey showed that smaller individuals are generally found in the shallowest strata, which serve as nursery sites for the species.
- Green sea urchins were the most common type of by-catch in the survey. The fishing sites in the survey did not necessarily contain sea cucumbers at a density high enough for a commercial sea cucumber fishery.
- More than fifteen species were caught unintentionally in the commercial fishing gear in 2009 and 2010.
- A study of the short-, medium- and long-term impacts is needed to determine the effect of the gear on sea cucumber habitat and on the benthic communities where the fishery is carried out. In particular, more information is needed on the short-term impacts of drag fishing on marine ecosystems in the Gaspé Peninsula’s north shore.
This science advisory report is the outcome of a peer review held on May 5, 2011, by Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat on the assessment of sea cucumber stocks in Quebec. Additional publications from this process will be posted as they become available on the DFO Science Advisory Schedule.
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