Assessment of the Georges Bank cod stock for 1994
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  • Description:
    The status of the Georges Bank cod (Gadus morhua) stock is reviewed and estimates of 1993 fishing mortality and 1994 stock size and spawning stock biomass are presented. Forecasts of 1995 landings and resulting 1996 spawning stock biomass at various levels of 1995 fishing mortality are also given. The 1994 assessment was based on several diverse sources of information including: USA and Canadian landings at age estimates, USA spring and autumn and Canadian spring research vessel survey data, and standardized USA commercial fishing effort data. Total landings of Georges Bank cod declined in 1993 to 23,100 metric tons (t) from a recent high of 42,500 t in 1990, a decrease of about 50% and the lowest annual total since the mid-1970s. USA landings have exhibited a proportional decrease similar to the overall trend. Despite sharp recent declines in landings, biological sampling has remained relatively intense. Commercial landings per unit of standardized effort declined steadily between 1982 and 1987, appeared to stabilize at the low 1987 level through 1991, but declined sharply in 1992 and, to a lesser extent, in 1993. Fishery-independent spring and autumn bottom trawl surveys conducted by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) have also documented a steady decline in total stock biomass since the early 1970s; the largest decreases have occurred since 1980. The 1993 and 1994 indices suggest that the Georges Bank cod stock is at a record-low biomass level. Recent recruitment indices of age 1 and 2 cod from the NEFSC autumn surveys have been well below levels observed prior to 1980. Of these, only the 1983, 1985 and 1987 year classes were above average, but year classes appearing since 1987 have been weak. Spawning stock biomass has declined from about 90,000 t during the early 1980s to record low levels of 37,200 t in 1993 and 29,100 t in 1994. At the present level of exploitation, the spawning stock is expected to decline further through 1997. Fishing mortality doubled between 1979 and 1985, declined briefly, but increased again in 1988 and reached a record-high level of 0.91 in 1993, resulting in an exploitation rate of about 55%. At the present level of exploitation, landings from this stock are expected to decline to less than 13,000 t in 1995 and spawning stock biomass is projected to decline to about 17,000 t in 1996.
  • Content Notes:
    by F. M. Serchuk, R. K. Mayo, and L. O'Brien

    System requirements: Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Includes bibliographical references (pages 11-13).

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