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Framework Review for Stock Assessment of Offshore Whelk in 4Vs and 4W

Regional Peer Review - Maritimes Region

May 17–18, 2022
Virtual meeting

Chairpersons: Leslie Nasmith and Rabindra Singh


Buccinum undatum, the waved whelk, is a ubiquitous marine gastropod within the North Atlantic. They are distributed from the low water mark to depths of up to 600 m but are most abundant in the shallower portion of that range (Hansson 1998; Weetman et al. 2006; Włodarska-Kowalczuk 2007; Heude-Berthelin et al. 2011). Their reproductive cycle involves internal fertilization and direct development of larvae within demersal egg capsules. This lack of planktonic larvae coupled with limited adult movement (Pálsson et al. 2014, Lapointe and Sainte-Marie 1992; Hancock, 1963; Himmelman and Hamel 1993) results in a limited dispersal in this species. A growing body of research has shown whelk to exhibit variation in shell morphology, size at sexual maturity, and size frequency as well as genetic differentiation over relatively small spatial scales (Weetman et al. 2006; Shelmerdine et al. 2007; Pálsson et al. 2014; McIntyre et al. 2015; Valentinsson et al.). This makes whelk populations vulnerable to local depletion or even extirpation (Gendron 1991; de Jonge et al. 1993), and slow to recover from their removal.

There is currently an exploratory whelk fishery in Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Divisions 4W and 4Vs. There are no independent surveys and thus information on these stocks is based on data collected by the exploratory license holders (Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd. and Premium Seafoods Ltd.). This assessment framework review will enable DFO Science to address requests from DFO Resource Management and provide advice on the stock status of whelk to guide decisions in the management of offshore 4Vs and 4W whelk including the viability of commercial fisheries, the management of food, social, and ceremonial allocations, and commercial quota allocations.


The specific objectives to be addressed in this assessment framework review are as follows:

Expected Publications

Expected Participation



Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.

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