Scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) are painting a bleak picture for the upcoming 2017 snow crab season.
At a media briefing held today in St. John’s, DFO snow crab lead Dr. Darrell Mullowney said the fishable biomass off Newfoundland (NAFO areas 2HJ3KLNOP4R) is now at its lowest observed level — after declining 80 per cent since 2013. Even more troubling is the stock has declined 40 per cent from 2015 to 2016.
- 2HL: Biomass demonstrated increase in 2014, but a declined by half since then.
- 3K: Biomass has declined since 2008 to the lowest observed levels in the past two years.
- 3LNO: Biomass has declined since 2013 to an historic low — down 50 per cent from 2015-2016 and between 27-74 per cent in some management areas.
- 3L (inshore): Declined by a third in 2016. This reflected decreases ranging from 12-46 per cent in various management areas.
- 3Ps: The exploitable biomass index declined by 88 per cent since 2010 to a time series low in 2016.
- 4R3Pn: The post-season trap survey biomass most recently peaked in 2011 and has since gradually declined reflecting patterns in most surveyed areas.
Snow crab landings recently peaked at 53,500 tonnes in 2009 and have since gradually declined to 42,000 tonnes in 2016. Divisions 3LNO have accounted for about 80 per cent of the landings in recent years. Fishery catch rates were at or near historical lows in most divisions in 2016.
The results of the recent snow crab stock assessment are currently being drafted as a Science Advisory Report, which will be published on the CSAS website in the near future.
The recent snow crab stock assessment results will be presented and discussed at industry consultations held throughout the province, which are scheduled for March 6 – 14. The stock assessment results, along with advice from both DFO
fisheries management and industry, will be considered by senior officials in developing future total allowable catch (TAC) and other management actions.