Science Response 2014/049
Short-Term Stock Prospects for Cod, Crab and Shrimp in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region (Divisions 2J3KL)
Bottom water temperatures off the East Coast of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) have been increasing since the mid-1990s and are expected to remain high or continue to increase (more gradually) for more than a decade to about 2030, based on the Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP). While the return to a warm regime should be favourable for Atlantic Cod, there are other factors (eg. abundance of a primary prey such as capelin) affecting stock growth and productivity. For Snow Crab, warm conditions are associated with low survival soon after settlement and weak subsequent recruitment. Effects of warming are most unclear for Northern Shrimp because recruitment dynamics are believed to be related to the match/mismatch of hatching with the spring algal bloom, which likely involves multiple factors interacting with temperature.
Given current environmental predictions and the implications for these resources, Fisheries and Aquaculture Management Branch asked Science Branch to provide an overview of the prospects of these stocks over the next 3-5 years. Consequently, a DFO Science Response Process (SRP) was undertaken on 20, 21 and 28 August, 2014.
The objectives of this process were:
- report on the confidence of the environmental modelling from ACCASP that supports the expectations that bottom water temperatures are to remain high or continue to increase over the next decade, but more particularly, over the next 3-5 years;
- report on other key environmental attributes (eg. algal blooms) considered to be important in cod-crab-shrimp dynamics;
- review trends in capelin and other important prey items;
- review scenarios for possible biomass trends to 2019 in key resources in the NL Region - Divisions 2J3KL - (specifically crab, shrimp and cod), to support economic analysis and discussions with industry in various consultation processes. Scenarios should be considered in terms of Optimistic, Pessimistic and Likely outcomes for these stocks under a warming environment regime.
With very limited new analyses the meeting attained a consensus view of the resource prospects, based mostly on the most recent stock assessments and information previously peer-reviewed. The process also identified the main uncertainties and their potential consequences on resource prospects.
This Science Response Report results from the Science Response Process of 20, 21 and 28 August, 2014 on the review of the Short-term Stock Prospects for Cod, Crab and Shrimp in the NL Region (Divisions 2J3KL).
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