Last updated on 6 January 2018

SUMMARY

Summary

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Gadus morhua

SPECIES NAME(s)

Atlantic cod

COMMON NAMES

4VsW cod, northeastern Scotian shelf cod

Eastern Scotian shelf cod in areas 4VsW has historically been assessed as a unit, but is described as a stock complex, with several subpopulations or spawning locations (Smedbol et al, 2002). Additionally, some mixing is known to occur between the Eastern Scotian Shelf component and cod in 4Vn and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife considers a Laurentian South “Designatable Unit” which includes this (4VsW) management unit, along with the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (4T-4Vn, from November-April) and resident 4Vn cod (from May-October)(DFO, 2011).


ANALYSIS

Strengths
  • The directed fishery is currently closed
  • While information on current catch. Landings and removals are unavailable, it is likely that the recent decline is not attributed to fishing mortality.
  • A network of marine protected areas and marine refuges are in place. Some of these are specific to rebuilding cod in the region
Weaknesses
  • An assessment update has not been conducted since 2003
  • The structure of the biological stock is not clear, and the complexity of spawning components should be recognized in a recovery plan, and a review made of the assessment/management units.
  • The Eastern Scotian Shelf unit is considered by COSEWIC to be part of the Laurentian South Designatable Unit which is assessed as Endangered.
  • Survey indices have recently declined form a local high, to a time-series low
  • Data on set quotas, catch, landings, and effort are not publicly available despite repeated attempts.
  • No recovery plan appears to be in place.

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

< 6

Managers Compliance:

NOT YET SCORED

Fishers Compliance:

NOT YET SCORED

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

< 6

Future Health:

< 6


RECOMMENDATIONS

CATCHERS & REGULATORS
  • Develop and implement a recovery plan for this stock, including biological reference points.
RETAILERS & SUPPLY CHAIN
  • Companies should encourage the Regional Director-General for the Maritimes Region to implement a recovery plan.

FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

No related MSC fisheries

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

ASSESSMENT UNIT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Eastern Scotian shelf Canada 4VsW Canada Bottom trawls
Longlines

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 6 January 2018

Strengths
  • The directed fishery is currently closed
  • While information on current catch. Landings and removals are unavailable, it is likely that the recent decline is not attributed to fishing mortality.
  • A network of marine protected areas and marine refuges are in place. Some of these are specific to rebuilding cod in the region
Weaknesses
  • An assessment update has not been conducted since 2003
  • The structure of the biological stock is not clear, and the complexity of spawning components should be recognized in a recovery plan, and a review made of the assessment/management units.
  • The Eastern Scotian Shelf unit is considered by COSEWIC to be part of the Laurentian South Designatable Unit which is assessed as Endangered.
  • Survey indices have recently declined form a local high, to a time-series low
  • Data on set quotas, catch, landings, and effort are not publicly available despite repeated attempts.
  • No recovery plan appears to be in place.
RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 14 September 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators
  • Develop and implement a recovery plan for this stock, including biological reference points.
Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
  • Companies should encourage the Regional Director-General for the Maritimes Region to implement a recovery plan.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 6 January 2018

Eastern Scotian Shelf cod is composed of summer and fall spawning elements (DFO, 2011) and possibly other spawning components (4Vs vs. 4W; inshore vs. offshore). The current assessment unit delineations are based on management units and not on scientific knowledge of stock structure, which in this region is admittedly complex. It has been suggested that failing to protect spawning components may have been a factor in the stock collapse (DFO, 2005). The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) considers a “Laurentian South population” or Designatable Unit, which comprises three DFO management/assessment units: (1) Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (NAFO 4TVn, November to April), (2) Cabot Strait or Sydney Bight (NAFO 4Vn, May to October), (3) Eastern Scotian Shelf (NAFO 4VsW) (COSEWIC, 2010), under consideration here. A revision of stock assessment and management units should be considered (DFO, 2005).

No full stock assessment has been performed since 2003 (DFO, 2011) but a Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA) has been conducted in order to provide information required under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), following cod’s assessment by COSEWIC as “endangered”. The RPA was based on information from surveys conducted annually by DFO (Clark and Emberley, 2011; Emberley and Clark, 2012) and applied an unspecified “population model” (DFO, 2011).

Since the last profile update there has not updated assessment for this stock. Survey biomass indices are at the lowest in the time series ().

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 6 January 2018

The most recent scientific advice was presented by the 2011 Recovery Potential Assessment of cod in the Laurentian South Designatable Unit. Projections based on persistence of the productivity conditions at the time, and at varying historical levels of natural mortality, were pessimistic, with no recovery foreseen (DFO, 2011). Natural mortality, to which predation by grey seals Halichoerus grypus contributes an unquantified proportion, is a factor. For the neighboring Southern Gulf of Saint Lawrence unit (part of the same Designatable Unit), seal predation is a major component of natural mortality and removal of seals has been considered (DFO, 2011). However, Fu et al. (2001) assume that fishing is the main cause for the current depleted status of the stock.

Since the last profile update there has not updated assessment for this stock. Survey biomass indices are at the lowest in the time series (). No further information is available.

Reference Points

Last updated on 06 Jan 2018

No reference points have been formally adopted. Based on the productive period of the stock, up to 1990, a Limit Reference Point (LRP) = 40% of SSB (BMSY) was set at 50,000 tons (DFO, 2011). Fishing mortality reference points are not set.

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 6 January 2018

The most recent information available is survey trends, which show cod biomass in 4VsW in 2013 around historically low levels, having decreased from a short-lived bump which in 2009 broached the long-term (1970-2011) average. Both the 2012 and 2013 survey indices are also below the medium-term (15 year) and short-term (5 year) averages (DFO, 2014a). The trends are comparable to the most recent spawning stock biomass trends from a population model (DFO, 2011) which had captured the 2009 local peak and assessed it as above the limit reference point. Length frequencies from the survey indicate low numbers and below-average sizes but strong readings of very small cod (4 cm and especially 7 cm) (DFO, 2014a). Fishing mortality from bycatch (the only source of current removals) has been around 0.01 in recent years, which is projected to have little effect on the population. Predation by grey seals and natural mortality was considered in 2011 to have been decreasing (DFO, 2011). O’Boyle and Sinclair (2012) consider that predation has been hindering this fishery’s recovery since the 1990s, when the herds of grey seals in the region started to increase steeply (DFO, 2010).

Since the last profile update there has not updated assessment for this stock. Survey biomass indices are at the lowest in the time series (). No further information is available.

Trends

Last updated on 06 Jan 2018

Biomass dramatically declined from the mid-1980s, from a SSB of around 150,000 tons to around 7,500 in 2003. An improvement was observed in the late 2000s (DFO, 2011) but recent surveys indicate the recovery was not sustained and biomass is again at historically low levels (DFO, 2014a). Although under moratorium since 1993, the stock has not recovered. Natural mortality (M) was unusually high in 1990s-2000s, contributing to the Endangered status of the Laurentian South Designatable Unit, but has been decreasing since then. Age and length at maturity have both declined since the 1950s for unknown reasons (DFO, 2011).

Since the last profile update there has not updated assessment for this stock. Survey biomass indices have declined from a recent high point and are at the lowest in the time series (). No further information is available.

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 6 January 2018

Stocks in the region were managed under annual and then multi-year groundfish management plans (DFO, 2005; DFO, 2002). The fishery has been closed since 1993 to all directed fishing (DFO, 2003; DFO, 2013a); but a maximum bycatch quota is set annually at 150 tons (DFO, 2013b). No harvest control rule is known to be in place, with explicit criteria for the reopening of the fishery should signs of improvement become apparent (DFO, 2005).

Different management measures are in place: gear restrictions, small fish protocols, bycatch protocols, logbooks, third-party catch verification, at-sea observer coverage, a Vessel monitoring system (VMS), area and season closures to protect juveniles (DFO, 2009). Several areas closures protect the ecosystem and overwintering habitat for resident and southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Atlantic cod populations (DFO, 2005; DFO, 2013c; more details in the Marine Reserves section).

Since the last update little information is available. The directed fishery is closed. Information on bycatch quotas, and overall removals are not publicly available. As such this stock is listed as data deficient for manager compliance.

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 06 Jan 2018

The fishery has been under moratorium since 1993, with only a limited bycatch quota set. An action team was established in 2003 to implement a recovery strategy for cod in 4VsW and 4Vn, and laid out several potential recovery strategies and made draft recommendations including developing a management decision framework, reviewing observer coverage programs, sharing stewardship and costs, obtaining input on mitigating seismic surveys and considering the protection of juvenile habitat (DFO, 2005). No known recovery plan is currently in place.

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 6 January 2018

The directed fishery is closed. Information on bycatch quotas, and overall removals are not publicly available since 2013. As such this stock is listed as data deficient for compliance.

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Last updated on 6 January 2018

Because there is little new information on catch and effort in the bycatch only fishery since the last update stock is listed as data deficient for environmental scoring.

Other Species

Last updated on 6 January 2018

Because there is little new information on catch and effort in the bycatch only fishery since the last update stock is listed as data deficient for environmental scoring.

HABITAT

Last updated on 6 January 2018

Because there is little new information on catch and effort in the bycatch only fishery since the last update stock is listed as data deficient for environmental scoring.

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 06 Jan 2018

A network of marine protected areas and marine refuges are in place. Some of these are specific to rebuilding cod in the region ()

FishSource Scores

Last updated on 6 January 2018

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2016 data.

The score is < 6.

The stock is depleted and there is no formal recovery plan with a harvest control rule in place. No fishing mortality reference points have been formally adopted. There is a moratorium in place since 1993 however.

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2016 data.

The score is < 6.

Survey biomass in 2013 was close to historically low levels. The 2011 biomass estimate from a population model was well below the previously defined limit reference point.

As calculated for 2016 data.

The score is < 6.

There has been no directed fishery since 1993, and removals as bycatch do not seem to be preventing the recovery of the stock. Natural mortality partly due to predation by grey seals is an important factor impeding recovery (DFO, 2011). Past fishing levels are considered to be the main reason for the current stock status.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE RISK

High Medium Low

This indicates the potential risk of human rights abuses within this fishery.

To see data for biomass, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for catch and tac, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for fishing mortality, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for recruitment
No data available for recruitment
To see data for management quality, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for stock status, please view this site on a desktop.
DATA NOTES
  • Biomass data from 1958 to 2009 corresponds to the spawning stock (DFO, 2011) but the 2010-2013 values are survey indices of total biomass, due to the absence of published SSB data (Clark and Emberley, 2011; DFO, 2014a); trends of both data are similar so these data points were included for comparative purposes.
  • The survey value for 2010 refers to cod in 4VW, but 2011-2013 values to just cod in 4VsW. As the limit reference point (40% of BMSY) defined (DFO, 2011) strictly applies to the SSB series, a qualitative score has been assigned to compute score 4.
  • In the absence of formal fishing mortality reference points scores 1, 4 and 5 cannot be computed numerically and qualitative scores have been derived based on the latest information available (context is provided when mousing-over).
  • The fishing season occurs from April 1st to March 31st of the following year; thus 2013 data corresponds to the 2012/2013 fishing season.
  • Since 2013 cod quota reports and landings have not been available from the DFO website. Email requests for that information have not been answers. As such stock is listed as data deficient with scores 2 and 3 unable to be scored.

Download Source Data

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

No related MSC certifications

Sources

Credits
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References

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