Science Advisory Report 2017/003
The Saguenay Fjord Winter Recreational Groundfish Fishery
- The winter recreational fishery in the Saguenay is very popular with an annual average (1998–2014) of nearly 1,500 cabins set up on the pack ice. In the 2016 season, the number of cabins is below this average due to insufficient ice cover, which has delayed and even prevented some fishing villages from being set up.
- The success of fishing is low, and more than 90% of the time, fishermen do not catch their daily limit of five groundfish.
- During the winter recreational fishery in 2015 and 2016, Redfish, Atlantic Cod, Greenland Cod and Greenland Halibut (turbot) accounted for 85%, 8%, 3% and 4% of groundfish catches, respectively.
- The number of Redfish catches per unit effort (NUE) from the fishery and the research survey dropped significant before 2005 and has stabilized at a low level, below the respective series average since then.
- Fishery and survey NUE for Atlantic Cod, Greenland Cod and Greenland Halibut are low. However, since 2013 there has been an increase in NUE in the Atlantic Cod and Greenland Halibut fisheries with values above their series average.
- Groundfish recruitment in the Saguenay relies on the arrival of juveniles from the Estuary. Strong Deepwater Redfish (Sebastes mentella) year-classes (2011, 2012 and 2013) were noted in the Estuary, and they were more abundant than in the last 30 years.
- These new Redfish cohorts have been observed in the Saguenay Fjord since 2013 by recreational anglers and since 2014 in the DFO scientific survey.
- Redfish are slow growing and long-lived. According to estimates of Redfish growth in the Gulf, nearly 50% of the fish in the 2011 cohort will exceed 22 cm in the summer of 2018.
- The medium-term outlook is encouraging for the winter recreational Redfish fishery in the Saguenay Fjord. Until then, juvenile catches will have to be kept to a minimum in order to help rebuild the biomass.
- Since groundfish in the Saguenay are part of a unique ecosystem, their populations must be protected in accordance with the Precautionary Principle. It would be appropriate to keep effort and catch levels about where they have been in recent years.
This Science Advisory Report stems from the November 10, 2016 meeting on the assessment of the Saguenay Fjord winter recreational groundfish fishery. Additional publications from this meeting will be posted on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Science Advisory Schedule as they become available.
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