Terms of Reference
Assessment of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) Cod stock
Regional Peer Review - Quebec Region
February 23-24, 2023
Chairperson: Caroline Senay
The last full assessment for the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence Atlantic cod stock (3Pn, 4RS) was in February 2019 (Brassard et al. 2020; DFO 2019a,b). It determined the stock to be deep in the critical zone at 10% of the Limit Reference Point (LRP). Since then, annual updates of stock status indicators have been conducted and indicated no major changes in the stock status (DFO 2020, 2021, 2022a). In parallel, a review of the assessment framework for this stock was completed in order to obtain a new assessment model. Held in two sessions, the first one focused on the available data and their statistical treatment (Benoît et al. 2021, 2022; DFO 2022b; Ouellette-Plante et al. 2022a,b) and the second one focused on the development of a new assessment model. In July 2022, Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced the closure of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence Atlantic cod directed commercial fishery for one year and announced that the decision would be reassessed prior to the 2023-24 season. The February 2023 assessment was requested by the Fisheries Management Branch (FM) to provide detailed advice on the status of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence Atlantic cod stock in order to guide management decisions for this stock for the next management cycle. Finally, since a new assessment model has just been accepted, a review of the reference points of the precautionary approach is required, especially since they will be critical inputs to the development of the next rebuilding plan for this stock.
- Provide scientific advice on cod stock status in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS). This advice shall include:
- An oceanographic and environmental overview for the cod stock area;
- Description of the cod fishery including landings, fishing effort, catch per unit effort, biological data and cod by-catches in other fisheries;
- Analysis of data from the DFO annual research trawl survey and sentinel fisheries with mobile gears (July) and fixed gears (gillnets and longlines);
- Analysis of biological indicators related to the condition, growth and maturity;
- An analysis derived from the new assessment model to identify stock trends in spawning stock abundance, recruitment and mortality;
- Analysis of trends of a number of indicators relevant to abundance, productivity and fishing mortality;
- Establishing the LRP from the Precautionary Approach.
- Provide guidance on the Precautionary Approach Upper Reference Point (URP) and the Fishing Mortality Limit Reference Point (Flim).
- Spawning stock biomass projections for 2023 and 2024 based on the new assessment model relative to the new LRP and to potential harvest scenarios provided by the FM;
- Assessment of the main factors affecting the productivity of the stock over the last four decades;
- The determination of the process to provide advice during the interim years, including a description of conditions that may warrant a full stock assessment earlier than originally planned;
- Highlight major sources of uncertainty in the assessment.
- Identification and prioritization of research projects to be considered for the future.
- Science Advisory Report
- Research Document
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) (Science and Fisheries Management sectors)
- Fishing industry
- Provincial representatives
- Aboriginal communities/organizations External and academic experts
- Benoît, H.P., Brassard, C., Carruthers, E., and Nadeau, P. 2021. Results of a questionnaire to commercial harvesters on historical and current unaccounted catches of Atlantic cod in NAFO areas 3Pn4RS. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2021/067. vi + 36 p.
- Benoît, H.P., Ouellette-Plante, J., Yin, Y, and Brassard, C. 2022. Review of the assessment framework for Atlantic cod in NAFO 3Pn4RS: Fishery independent surveys. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2022/049. xiii + 130 p.
- Brassard, C., Lussier, J-F., Benoît, H, Way, M. and Collier, F. 2020. The status of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) stock in 2018. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2019/075. x + 117 p.
- DFO. 2019a. Assessment of the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) Atlantic Cod Stock in 2018. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2019/032.
- DFO. 2019b. Proceedings of the regional peer review of the assessment of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) Atlantic cod stock; February 21-22, 2019. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Proceed. Ser. 2019/012.
- DFO. 2020. Update of stock status indicators for northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) Atlantic cod in 2019. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2020/007.
- DFO. 2021. Update of stock status indicators for northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) Atlantic Cod in 2020. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2021/006.
- DFO. 2022a. Update of stock status indicators of Atlantic cod in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) in 2021. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2022/009.
- DFO. 2022b. Proceedings of the regional advisory meeting of the assessment framework for the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn4RS) Atlantic Cod—Part 1: review of data input; April 21– 22 and May 12, 2021. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Proceed. Ser. 2022/008.
- Ouellette-Plante, J., Benoît, H.P. and Brassard, C. 2022a. Review of the NAFO 3Pn4RS Atlantic cod assessment framework: commercial and recreational fisheries catch and tagging program data. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2022/033. v + 57 p.
- Ouellette-Plante, J., Van Beveren, E., Benoît, H.P. and Brassard, C. 2022b. Details of catchR, an R package to estimate the age and length composition of fishery catches, with an application to 3Pn4RS Atlantic cod. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2022/015.
Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.
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