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The International Sampling Program: continent of origin and biological characteristics of Atlantic salmon collected at West Greenland in 2015
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    An Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) mixed-stock fishery operating from August through October exists off the western coast of Greenland and primarily harvests 1 sea-winter (1SW) North American and European origin salmon destined to return to natal waters as 2 sea-winter spawning adults. To collect data on the biological characteristics and origin of the harvest necessary for international stock assessment efforts, parties to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization's (NASCO) West Greenland Commission agreed to participate in an international sampling program for the 2015 fishery. The sampling program was coordinated by the USA (NOAA Fisheries Service) and involved 7 samplers from 6 countries, deployed among 4 communities (Sisimiut, Maniitsoq, Paamiut, and Qaqortoq) located on the west coast of Greenland. Reported landings in 2015 were 56.8 metric tons (t). Data on length, weight, freshwater and marine age from scale samples, and continent of origin from genetic analysis of tissue samples were collected. Since 2002 (with the exception of 2006 and 2011), unreported landings were identified by comparing the reported landings to the weight of the sampled harvest for each community. Unreported landings were not detected in 2015. In total, 1,964 salmon were observed by the sampling teams, and 1,708 of these were sampled for biological characteristics. Approximately 12% by weight of the reported landings were observed by the sampling teams. No samples were collected from factory landed fish. As seen since the mid-1990s, a high proportion of the harvested stock was of North American origin (79.9%) with the balance being European origin (20.1%). North American origin fish were primarily freshwater age 2 or 3 years (31.6% and 40.6% respectively), and 1SW (97.0%). European origin fish were primarily freshwater age 2 (54.9%) and 1SW (98.2%). The mean length of North American 1SW salmon was 65.6 cm, and the mean whole weight was 3.36 kg; the mean length of European 1SW salmon was 64.4 cm, and the mean whole weight was 3.13 kg. Approximately 13,500 North American (44.6 t) and 3,900 European salmon (11.2 t) were harvested, not taking into account any unreported catch. The sampling program was successful in adequately sampling the Greenland catch, both temporally and spatially, and provided essential input data to international stock assessment efforts, which provide stock status and catch options for subsequent fishery management. [doi:10.7289/V5/RD-NEFSC-17-13(https://doi.org/10.7289/V5/RD-NEFSC-17-13)]
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