Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee : 2019 status report for Eastern Georges Bank haddock
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Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee : 2019 status report for Eastern Georges Bank haddock

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  • Alternative Title:
    Eastern Georges Bank Haddock. TRAC Status Report 2019/03
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    Combined Canada and USA catches for Eastern Georges Bank (EGB) Haddock were 12,495 mt in 2018. The 2018 and 2019 survey indices were above their respective means for the time series. In the most recent year, Fisheries and Oceans, Canada (DFO) and National MarineFisheries Service (NMFS) fall indices decreased, while the NMFS spring index increased. The population age structure displays a broad representation of age groups, reflecting improving recruitment since 1995. The spatial distribution patterns observed during the most recent bottom trawl surveys were similar to the average patterns over the previousten years. There are no indications of exceptional year classes coming into the population. There are preliminary indications of above average recruitment for 2016, although thatobservation is uncertain. There has been a general decline in weights at age since the late 1990s. As biomass has increased, growth rates and asymptotic length have declined. This decline in size at age is exacerbated for the 2013 year class. The assessment model was rejected, so there are no analytical projections to characterize risk for catches in 2020 and 2021. Survey and relative F trends, comparisons with the 2003 year class in 2009 (which is akin to the 2013 year class in 2019), and results from the 2012 virtual population analysis (VPA) are summarized in an attempt to relate current relative measures to analytical estimates from the last VPA with acceptable performance. Relative F tended to be above the mean during the earlier years of the time series until 1997 and has remained low since 2012. The population is expected to decline from 2019 to 2020 and 2021 even if no catches are taken in 2020. This is primarily due to the decline in numbers of the 2013 year class, which is expected to have very little gains in weight from age 6 to 8. Although the population is still abundant, and well above the time series average survey biomass, maintaining a constant quota on a declining population (where catch is primarily coming from a single year class) would lead to an increasing trend in relative F. The uncertain availability, combined with weights at age being the lowest observed for the 2013 year class, argue against the status quo quota. The Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee (TRAC) recommends no increase in quota in 2020 above the 2019 quota of 30,000 mt, but recommends a decrease in quota in 2021. There is no consensus on whether to decrease quota in 2020. For guidance on a potentially reasonable range of quota advice, the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee (TMGC) could consider the quota advice for the 2003 year class in 2009-2011, as a starting point.
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