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Atlantic Fisheries Research Document 1996/097

Non-traditional groundfish species on the Labrador Shelf and Grand Banks - wolffish, monkfish, white hake and winter (blackback) flounder

By D.W. Kulka; E. DeBlois; B. Davis


With the decline in the "traditional" groundfish resources in the waters around Newfoundland, interest in the exploitation of alternate species has increased. In addition to skates for which there has been a directed fishery since 1994, monkfish, white hake, two species of wolffish, and winter (blackback) flounder have been considered as potential candidates for new or expanded fisheries. As well, all of these species are common as bycatch in other directed groundfisheries. Winter (blackback) flounder has been a minor commercial species since the early 1970s and white hake is directed for in other areas, specifically in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Scotian Shelf. To date, only limited experimental fishing has been done for these species off Newfoundland's south coast, on the Grand Banks and north. This paper provides a preliminary examination of available information on distributions, an analysis of abundance and biomass from research vessel survey data, a recent history of the landings, and available commercial length frequency data. In general , all species addressed in this paper showed a reduced distribution, primarily north of Latitude 48°N and a decline in biomass in certain areas. Limited data on size of fish in the commercial catches is presented for the first time for white hake, monkfish, and winter (blackback) flounder.

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