Science Advisory Report 2017/002
Stock Assessment of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Subdivision 3Ps Cod
- Although the stock is currently estimated to be in the Cautious Zone (18% above Blim) as defined by the DFO Precautionary Approach (PA) Framework; the probability that the stock is in the critical zone is 0.22, which is a concern.
- There are further concerns that the current estimate of spawning stock biomass (SSB) could be biased as the model has overestimated SSB in recent years.
- The SSB has declined since 2012 and there are few older (ages 6+) fish in the population.
- The strong 2011 cohort is now of age to recruit to the fishery. The subsequent cohorts are lower but near the time-series average.
- Estimated total mortality has been increasing and the 2015 value is the time-series maximum. Over 2013-15, total mortality averaged 0.73 (52% per year). This is very high considering that landings have been about half of the TACs over this time period.
- Projection of the stock to 2019 was not conducted. If the current high mortality rate persists, it will result in a sharp decline in biomass in the coming years.
- Recent trends in mean size and weight-at-age, fish condition and age-at-maturity are at or near their lowest observed levels. This is consistent with broader ecosystem trends (e.g. warming temperatures, changes in community structure and cod diet composition) which also suggest some aspects of cod productivity may be impaired.
- Catches of approximately half the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) generated from the Harvest Control Rule (HCR) in recent years have not promoted recovery of the stock toward the healthy zone. It was therefore not considered prudent to provide management advice based on the HCR.
- Given the downward trajectory of the stock in recent years, coupled with the current close proximity of the stock to the LRP, it is recommended that catch be reduced below recent levels.
This Science Advisory Report is from the October 17-19, 2016 Assessment of Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Subdivision 3Ps Atlantic Cod. Additional publications from this meeting will be posted on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Science Advisory Schedule as they become available.
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