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Chronology of NAFO documents and publications

2014 - Special Requests from Fisheries Commission

In addition to single stock assessment each year various special requests for information are made by the Fisheries Commission to the Scientific Council.

Request Summary Response Full Response
Harvest Control Rules for Greenland halibut (Item 3a)

The TAC for 2015 derived from the HCR is 15 578 t.

Exceptional circumstances in the Greenland halibut management strategy (Item 3b)

According to the indicator based on surveys, exceptional circumstances are presently occurring, with one survey observation below the 5th percentile of the simulated distributions. Due to the unavailability of STACFIS catch estimates in 2011, 2012, and 2013, Scientific Council is unable to determine whether recent catches also constitute an exceptional circumstance nor does it allow evaluation for some of the secondary indicators.

Although the application of the HCR results in an increase in TAC, the fact that one of the 2013 surveys is below the simulated distributions constitutes an exceptional circumstance and is a conservation concern.

Reference points for cod in Div. 3M (Item 5)

Scientific Council decided that F 30% (the fishing mortality which reduces Spawner Per Recruit (SPR) to 30% of its value at F=0) is the best F msy proxy at this moment.

Reference points for witch flounder in Div. 3NO (Item 6)

The average of the two highest Canadian spring research vessel survey points from 1984-2013 is considered to be a proxy for B msy . 30% of this average is considered to be a proxy for B lim . Following the same logic, a proxy for F msy (=F lim ) can be derived as 0.26 (based on catch/biomass ratio).

Full assessment of cod in Div. 3M and advice for 2015 (Item 7)

Recommendation for 2015

In the short term the stock can sustain values of F up to F max , however any fishing mortality over F max will result in an overall loss in yield in the long term. Scientific Council considers that yields at F statusquo are not a viable option.

Projections are heavily influenced by the 2010 and 2011 year classes, which is estimated to be extremely large, but with high uncertainty. Given the uncertainty in the projections, Scientific Council makes recommendations for 2015 only. The stock should be reassessed in 2015.

Development of MSE workplan for cod in Div. 3M (Item 8)

NAFO Scientific Council reviewed the Div. 3M cod MSE proposed by the NAFO Fisheries Commission and Scientific Council Joint Working Group on Risk-Based Management Strategies (FC/SC RBMS).

Scientific Council suggests some changes in the proposed MSE to reduce the high number of scenarios, and agreed a plan of work.

Selectivity in Div. 3M cod and redfish fisheries (Item 9)

There was no new available information at this meeting on cod and redfish selectivity.

Availability of data and progress towards quantitative assessments (Item 10)

Scientific Council deferred this request to its September meeting.

Development of MSE for redfish in Div. 3LN (Item 11)

Models to conduct a Management Strategy Evaluation for Div. 3LN redfish were developed. The management strategy proposed by the FC-SC WG on Risk Based Management Strategies was tested and found to meet the specified management objectives and performance statistics.

Risk assessment for SAI on VME elements and species (Item 12)

Scientific Council notes that work on significant adverse impacts on VME is on-going and that final results are not due until 2016, and indicates that good progress is been made. These analyses involved the production of fishery pressure layers based on VMS data, and VME biomass layers from RV surveys. Preliminary results indicated the important fractions of the recent effort are exerted in relatively small regions within the fishing footprint, and at least for some areas, this fishing effort seems to be concentrated in the near neighborhood of VMEs, suggesting a potential functional connection between some VMEs and commercially exploited fish species. This and other issues will continue to be explored as part of the process of developing the assessment of bottom fishing activities due in 2016. Specifically, the adopted approach has to be refined to take account of known and predicted VME habitat evaluated as part of the review of fishery closures.

Summary of data available for identification of VMEs (Item 13a)

Summary of Data Sources:

Data available were obtained from research vessel trawl surveys, benthic imagery collected through the NEREIDA program, and from NEREIDA box cores samples, and rock and scallop dredges.

Review of Current Closures:

Using all available information Scientific Council determined VME areas in the NRA, and compared these areas with the current sponges, corals, and seamount protection zones. The coverage of the VMEs provided by the protection zones varied depending on location and VME taxa. VMEs inside and outside existing closures were identified. Based on the characteristics of the VMEs, the overall coverage provided by existing protection zones, and the threat level inferred from current fishing effort patterns, a set of priorities for management consideration by WGEAFFM is provided as requested.

Review of Seamount Closed Areas in the NRA:

Scientific Council advises:

1) The polygons of the closures for both the New England and Corner Rise seamounts be revised to the north, east and west in the NAFO Convention Area to include all the peaks that are shallower than 2000 meters (as shown by green dots in Fig. 15).

2) For seamount fisheries in areas where fishing has not historically taken place, the Exploratory Fishing protocol be expanded to include all types of fishing, specifically the current mid-water trawl gears.

3) Precautionary regulations of the mid-water trawl fishery on splendid alfonsino be put in place. The regulations can include simple measures such as limiting spatially and temporally (i.e. outside the spawning season which is reported to be in July/August (Vinnchenko, 1997)) the activity with a close monitoring (i.e. include 100% scientific observer coverage in order to collect data for these less-known areas) including prior notifications, and effort or catch limitation. These regulations would only apply to areas where fishing has taken place historically as shown in Fig. 2, and only using a mid-water trawl (i.e. bottom trawl would remain under the Exploratory Protocol). Outside these areas, the expanded Exploratory fishing protocol would apply.

Extent of current closures and areas for prioritization by WGEAFFM (Item 13b)

Priorities for WGEAFFM

Scientific Council considered what area will benefit most from management action when considering this part of the request. Scientific Council notes that this is not an evaluation of the relative importance of VME as there is not enough information to do it. All VMEs are treated equally important in terms of their functionality. Scientific Council also notes that the closed areas should be viewed as connected systems.

Higher priority is given to those areas based on:

• multiple VME presence;
• the approximate proportion of the VME that is protected;
• close proximity to an existing closed area as this may imply continuity of the habitats;
• proximity to high fishing activity which could endanger the VME (increased threat);
• areas with no current protection

Impacts of removing candidate VME closures from survey design (Item 14)

There was no progress on this recommendation in 2013 or 2014, and, no analysis available at this meeting to evaluate the Fisheries Commission request to investigate the impacts of removing the closed areas from the survey design for relevant stock surveys, for consideration in the review of closed areas in 2014.

Occurrence of sea pens around areas 13 and 14 (Item 15)

The available data, including information from the 2013 EU-Spain and Portugal Flemish Cap survey, indicates that areas 13 and 14 are located within the easternmost seapen VME unit of the seapen VME system (Fig. 16). Within this unit, three high concentration locations have been identified, two corresponding to the candidate closures, and a third one located in between them, as well as several seapen observations of lower density. This seapen VME unit also encompasses locations of other VME indicator species (crinoids), as well as black corals.

Standardization of conversion factors (Item 16) The methodology and workplan were reviewed by STACREC. Scientific Council endorsed the views of the committee that the methodology, in terms of field work and statistical analysis, was sound and that a plan like this was required to derive reliable product to round weight conversion factors corresponding to products produced at sea in the NRA. It was recognized that there are logistical issues in the implementation of such a project but the framework provides guidance in this regard. It would be up to STACTIC and the Fisheries Commission to initiate the project. It was noted that a similar program was under way within Canada’s 200 mile limit to derive reliable conversion factors.
Categories: SC Advice

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