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Terms of Reference

Evaluation of bowhead whale survey methods to determine population abundance

Central and Arctic Regional Science Peer Review Meeting

September 28-29, 2011
Winnipeg, Teleconference & WebEx

Chairperson: Don Bowen


Eastern Canada-West Greenland (EC-WG) bowhead whales are a key ecosystem component in the Central and Arctic (C&A) Region within Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The EC-WG bowhead population is shared with Greenland and is an important subsistence fishery in both countries. C&A Fisheries Management (FM) and Science staff are developing a multi-year plan to address management and stock assessment needs for this fishery. However, there are significant outstanding information needs from Science. FM has requested advice on (1) a current abundance estimate to inform decisions on levels of harvest and (2) improved data quality with respect to knowledge of minimum population size necessary to determine Potential Biological Removal thresholds and Total Allowable Harvest recommendations. The first step in the process for providing this advice is to determine the most appropriate method(s) for assessing EC-WG bowhead whale population abundance.


The objective of the meeting is to evaluate bowhead whale stock assessment techniques used to determine abundance including aerial surveys (e.g., winter or summer range) and mark/recapture methods (e.g., photo-id, genetics).

Expected publications

This regional Science peer review meeting will generate a proceedings report that summarizes the discussions of the participants. It will be published in the proceedings series on the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) website. A working paper describing the advantages and disadvantages of various methods for assessing EC-WG bowhead whale abundance will be reviewed at the meeting. Following the meeting the working paper will be revised, if necessary, to reflect the meeting discussions. The working paper will then be presented for review by the National Marine Mammal Peer Review Committee (NMMPRC) at the NMMPRC annual meeting and later published as a CSAS research document.


DFO Science and FM sectors, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and academia are invited to this meeting.


Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.

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