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Forage fish and the factors governing recovery of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) on the eastern Scotian Shelf

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The stock of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) on the eastern Scotian Shelf (ESS) collapsed in the early 1990s and showed no sign of recovery during a 15-year fishing moratorium, but has recently increased in abundance. Both the prolonged lack of recovery and the recent improvement have been attributed to changes in the biomass of forage fishes through effects of predation and competition by these fishes on early life stages of cod. An examination of the relationships between forage fish biomass and the population dynamics of ESS cod provided no support for this hypothesis. Contrary to expectations under this hypothesis, cod recruitment rate was unrelated to forage fish biomass. The main factor delaying recovery was high natural mortality (M) of adult cod. The recent improvement in ESS cod is due to the strong 2004 year class and a decline in M. These factors cannot be attributed to an effect of forage fishes. Both the delay in recovery and recent improvement of the ESS cod stock appear to be due to factors other than interactions with forage fishes.

Document Type: Rapid Communication


Affiliations: Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, P.O. Box 1006, Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4A2, Canada.

Publication date: June 30, 2012

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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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