Science Advisory Report 2017/052
Stock Assessment of Atlantic Halibut of the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) in 2016
- Atlantic halibut landings have been increasing since the early 2000s and have reached the highest values since 1952. For management years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, preliminary landings were respectively 1,024 t and 950 t for a TAC of 1,037 t. There is no reason to believe that the 2016-2017 TAC will not be reached.
- Over the past 10 years, the proportion of Atlantic halibut under 85 cm has decreased in catches at sea, and was about 40% in the last two years. Conversely, the proportion of halibut over 130 cm (i.e. the size at 50% maturity for females) increased from under 5% to about 20% over the past 10 years.
- Catches per unit effort for the directed Atlantic halibut longline fishery are at their highest historical levels and have been stable since 2013.
- Pre-recruit abundance indicators from fishery-independent survey data reached among the highest levels in the historical series, and recent trends are stable or rising. Also, the size frequency distributions suggest good recruitment to the fishery in the coming years.
- There is no reliable indicator to measure spawning biomass for this stock. Current approaches do not provide quantitative data on spawning biomass levels or trends.
- Recent tagging has identified a potential winter breeding area at depths greater than 350 m at the junction of the Esquiman and Laurentian channels near the Cabot Strait.
- The fished component of the stock has been stable for the last four years, at the highest historical level, and recruitment to the fishery is expected to increase in the coming years. However, harvest levels for the fished component are unknown.
This Science Advisory Report is from the February 21, 2017 meeting on the Assessment of the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) Atlantic Halibut. 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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