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Assessment of Atlantic Wolffish population trends in the Maritimes Region

Regional Advisory Meeting – Maritimes Region

February 9–10, 2022
Virtual Meeting

Chairpersons: Leslie Nasmith and Rabindra Singh


Atlantic Wolffish (Anarhichas lupus) (listed as a species of Special Concern under the Species At Risk Act [SARA]) underwent steep declines in both abundance and area of occupancy over much of its range from the 1980s until the mid-1990s. Research Vessel (RV) surveys (NAFO areas 4X & 4VW) suggest that abundance continued to decline on the Scotian Shelf in the 2000s and remains at low levels (Simon et al. 2012). However, numerous factors make it difficult to confidently assess trends within the population. These include the historically low distribution and abundance of the species on the Scotian Shelf compared to Newfoundland and Labrador, life history traits (e.g., habitat preference/hyperdepletion), shifting environmental conditions, and variables within the RV survey itself (e.g., gear type/catchability, survey area).

Given the data sources available (e.g., Fisheries Observer data, SARA logbooks, other Fisheries and Oceans [DFO] surveys, industry data), is it possible to develop a reliable biomass index for the Scotian Shelf portion of the population? Can the index be used to understand population trends over time, and to assess and track fishing mortality over time? What does the data reveal about species distribution patterns, potential drivers of population decline, range shifts, and/or sustained low abundances?


The specific objectives of this Regional Science Peer Review Process are to:

Expected Publications

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Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.

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