November 27, 1997
FRCC PROVIDES 1998 ADVICE TO MINISTER OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS FOR SCOTIAN SHELF, BAY OF FUNDY & REDFISH UNITS 1, 2, 3, & DIVISION 3-O
Halifax, NS -- The Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) released today its annual advice to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for 1998 conservation requirements for Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy groundfish stocks, as well as Redfish, Units 1, 2, 3 and Division 3-O. The FRCC continues to recommend a cautious and prudent approach to these groundfish fisheries.
Chairman Fred Woodman observed that "some of these stocks are showing signs of improvement, particularly 4X haddock, which has doubled its biomass in recent years." Mr. Woodman noted "the progress we have made rebuilding fish stocks through the adoption of conservation measures means good news for this fishery. We must continue to be vigilant to ensure that this progress is sustained, and maintain our conservation course."
For 4X haddock the Council recommends an increase in the TAC for 1998 to 8100 mts. This reflects total and spawning biomasses at or above the long-term averages, and signs of good recruitment. However, this TAC is well below FO.1 to help maintain and further build stock strength over time. The Council also notes the need to protect the recruitment of juvenile fish in this stock.
The Council has recommended a prudent increase in the TAC for 4VWX,5Zc pollock to 20,000 mts. This reflects concerns from industry, and is at the cautious end of the advice provided by DFO Science. Council remains concerned about the potential for excessive effort in this fishery, especially on sub-stock components.
Given poor recruitment in recent years, the Council has recommended a significant decrease in the TAC for 1998 for 4X cod to 9300 mts, in conformity with views expressed by industry and the analysis of DFO Science. The FRCC wishes to keep this TAC near the FO.1 level to allow for expected strong growth in individual fish and a broadening in the age structure over time.
Making recommendations for Atlantic halibut was challenging to the Council. Fishermen have reported increased signs of abundance throughout the range of this stock while scientific reports on stock status show that abundance is decreasing, fishing mortality has increased, and the range of this stock is shrinking.
Using a precautionary approach, the Council determined that it would not be prudent to increase the commercial TAC for Atlantic halibut at this point, but that it is important to commence a scientifically-designed fishermen-operated survey/index fishery to deal with the great uncertainty in the status of this resource and the diverse views with respect to status of this stock.
The Council is deeply concerned about the redirection of fishing effort from east to west in 4X for cod, haddock and pollock. "As an immediate priority, the FRCC recommends that DFO Science and DFO Management be tasked to update data for this shift in effort. Should the review result indicate potential adverse effects on local aggregations or spawning components, the Council would urge that measures be put in place to protect the resource," stressed Mr. Woodman.
Mr. Woodman noted "there have been problems with the capture of small redfish and the Council urges that more work be done to correct this". As an interim measure, the Council recommends that at-sea and in-port sampling programs be fully applied in all areas to ensure that small fish protocols and discard regulations can be rigorously enforced for all Redfish fisheries.
For Unit 2, the FRCC has recommended a slight increase in the TAC from 10,000mts to 11,000mts. The stock is stable, with good signs of recruitment. The recommendation for Unit 3 and Division 3-0 is to remain at a TAC of 10,000mts.
The FRCC continues to recommend a moratorium on commercial fishing for Redfish in Unit 1 and echoes the concerns expressed by industry over the lack of information about this stock. The Council recommends establishing an ongoing joint industry/science survey, to include both a fully scientific component and one to re-establish the commercial catch rate index, with catches not to exceed 1,000mts. Participants in this "sentinel" fishery should be those who have historically fished this stock and whose catches were used to determine the commercial catch rate index, to allow the new index to be compared with the old.
Client and Public Relations, FRCC
(Due to the currrent mail difficulties, copies of this report will be available through the DFO regional office in Halifax and local offices throughout the province, as well as the FRCC Internet website: www.ncr.dfo.ca/frcc)