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Environmental and fishing limitations to the rebuilding of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence cod stock (Gadus morhua)

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Abstract:

Time series of life history traits determining the reproductive potential and productivity of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (nGSL) were obtained for the period covering the collapse and failure of the stock to recover. Decreasing trends in these traits were observed under unfavourable oceanographic conditions, with lowest values reached in the early 1990s. These changes had a negative impact on reproductive rate and instantaneous rate (r) of population growth. Estimates of r used as a proxy of stock productivity were negative when the stock collapsed, indicating that the biomass would have decreased even without fishing. Population abundance projections for the recent period suggest a potential increase in population size of 7.3% per year, with a doubling time of 10.5 years in the absence of exploitation and a near 0% rate with current fishing mortality, indicating that present harvesting does not allow any rebuilding of the stock. Given the similarities in environmental conditions and key life history traits, the situation in the nGSL might reflect the state of many northwest Atlantic cod stocks.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/f2011-007

Affiliations: Ministère des Pêches et des Océans, Institut Maurice-Lamontagne, 850 route de la Mer, C.P. 1000, Mont-Joli, QC G5H 3Z4, Canada.

Publication date: April 12, 2011

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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