Science Advisory Report 2019/005
The Saguenay fjord winter recreational groundfish fishery, 2017-2018
- Winter recreational fishing in the Saguenay is still very popular. In the 2017 and 2018 fishing seasons, an average of 1,376 cabins were set up on the pack ice between Saint-Fulgence and L'Anse-Saint-Jean. This represents a decrease of nearly 100 cabins when compared to the average for the period 1998–2016.
- Fishing effort, estimated in number of fisher days, has decreased over the last three years at the La Baie sites and increased in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park (SSLMP), more specifically in the village of L'Anse-Saint-Jean. In 2017–2018, the estimate of the number of fisher days for the entire Saguenay region is below the average for the 1996–2016 time series.
- During the winter recreational fishery in 2017 and 2018, redfish, Atlantic Cod, Greenland Cod and Greenland Halibut (turbot) accounted for 76%, 14%, 2% and 8% of groundfish catches, respectively.
- The recreational fishery catch rate for redfish shows a significant decrease from 1996 to 2007, and the DFO scientific survey shows a similar trend from 2003 to 2007. Since 2008, these catch rates have been low and stable and remain below the averages for their respective time series.
- Catch rates for Atlantic Cod, Greenland Cod and Greenland Halibut in the recreational fishery and the scientific survey are generally low. However, since 2013, there has been an increase in recreational fishery catch rates for Atlantic Cod and Greenland Halibut, with values above the averages for the time series.
- A new initiative involving the use of individual logbooks indicates that recreational fishery catch rates for the four groundfish species remained stable between 2015 and 2018.
- The recruitment of several groundfish species present in the Saguenay Fjord depends on the arrival of juveniles from the St. Lawrence Estuary. Strong year‑classes of redfish (Sebastes mentella) (2011, 2012 and 2013) were noted in the Estuary, and their abundance was at the highest level seen in the last 30 years. Their presence in the Saguenay Fjord has been observed since 2013.
- Recent redfish cohorts are slowly beginning to recruit to the recreational fishery. In the winter of 2018, they had a modal size of 20 cm and accounted for nearly 10% of catches.
- Since groundfish in the Saguenay are part of a unique ecosystem, their populations must be protected in accordance with the precautionary principle. The outlook for the winter recreational redfish fishery in the Saguenay Fjord is encouraging. However, since the new redfish cohorts have not yet fully recruited to the fishery, maintaining a level of effort similar to that of recent years would be appropriate for the 2019 and 2020 fishing seasons.
This Science Advisory Report is from the November 21, 2018 meeting on the Saguenay Fjord Winter Recreational Groundfish Fishery. 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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