COSEWIC Assessments

COSEWIC Assessment Summary and Status Report: Atlantic Cod - Laurentian North, Laurentian South, Newfoundland and Labrador, Southern and Arctic Lakes populations

Assessment Summary – April 2010

Common name
Atlantic Cod - Laurentian North population

Scientific name
Gadus morhua

Status
Endangered

Reason for designation
Populations in this designatable unit (DU) have declined 76-89% in the past 3 generations. The main cause of the decline in abundance was overfishing and there is no indication of recovery. This DU includes the cod management units 3Ps and 3Pn4RS. A limit reference point (LRP) has been estimated for the 3Pn4RS management unit. The abundance for this management unit has been relatively stable over the past decade, but it is well below the LRP, and directed fisheries continue. Abundance in southern Newfoundland (3Ps) is declining. The assessment indicates that this management unit is at the LRP, and directed fisheries continue.

Occurrence
Atlantic Ocean

Status history
The species was considered a single unit and designated Special Concern in April 1998. When the species was split into separate populations in May 2003, the Laurentian North population was designated Threatened. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in April 2010.



Assessment Summary – April 2010

Common name
Atlantic Cod - Laurentian South population

Scientific name
Gadus morhua

Status
Endangered

Reason for designation
Populations in this designatable unit (DU) have declined by 90% in the past 3 generations. The main cause of the rapid decline in abundance during the early 1990s was overfishing. Commercial fisheries were curtailed in 1993 and the abundance stabilized for a number of years. However, increased natural mortality and continued small catches have caused the abundance to decline again. Quantitative analysis of population demographic parameters indicate the population will continue to decline in the absence of fishing if the current elevated level of natural mortality persists. This DU includes the cod management units 4TVn (November – April), 4Vn (May – October) and 4VsW. A limit reference point (LRP) has been estimated for the 4TVn management unit and the current status is assessed to be well below the LRP. An LRP has not been estimated for the 4VsW management unit; however, it is considered to be at a critically low level.

Occurrence
Atlantic Ocean

Status history
The species was considered a single unit and designated Special Concern in April 1998. When the species was split into separate populations in May 2003, the Maritimes population was designated Special Concern. When the Maritimes population was further split into two populations (Laurentian South population and Southern population) in April 2010, the Laurentian South population was designated Endangered, and the original Maritimes population was de-activated.



Assessment Summary – April 2010

Common name
Atlantic Cod - Newfoundland and Labrador population

Scientific name
Gadus morhua

Status
Endangered

Reason for designation
This designatable unit (DU) includes the cod management units 2GH, 2J3KL and 3NO, located in the inshore and offshore waters of Labrador and eastern Newfoundland, and the Grand Banks. Cod in this area have declined 97-99% in the past 3 generations and more than 99% since the 1960s. The area of occupancy declined considerably as the stock collapsed in the early 1990s. The main cause of the decline in abundance was overfishing, and there has been a large reduction in the fishing rate since 1992. However, the population has remained at a very low level with little sign of substantive recovery. The most recent surveys indicate an increase in abundance over the past 3 years; however, this change in abundance is very small compared to the measured decline over the past 3 generations. The extremely low level of abundance and contracted spatial distribution makes the population vulnerable to catastrophic events, such as abnormal oceanographic conditions. Threats from fishing, predation, and ecosystem changes persist. There is no limit reference point (LRP) for the 2J3KL management unit but the population in this area is considered to be well below any reasonable LRP value. The offshore 2J3KL fishery is under moratorium and there is an inshore stewardship fishery with no formal total allowable catch (TAC). The fishery in the 3NO management unit is also under moratorium. There is an LRP for this management unit and the population is well below this value.

Occurrence
Atlantic Ocean

Status history
The species was considered a single unit and designated Special Concern in April 1998. When the species was split into separate populations in May 2003, the Newfoundland and Labrador population was designated Endangered. Status re-examined and confirmed in April 2010.



Assessment Summary – April 2010

Common name
Atlantic Cod - Southern population

Scientific name
Gadus morhua

Status
Endangered

Reason for designation
Populations in this designatable unit (DU) have declined by 64% in the past 3 generations and the decline is continuous. Commercial fishing is ongoing and is an important contributor to the decline. As well, there is evidence of an unexplained increase in natural mortality in the 4X portion of the DU. Rescue from the US population is unlikely given the low abundance of the species in that area. This DU includes the cod management units 4X5Y and 5Zjm. There is a directed fishery for the species in the 4X5Y area, and although there is no limit reference point (LRP), recent fishery management advice indicates that this management unit is at a critically low level. There is also a directed fishery in the 5Zjm management unit and this fishery is co-managed with the United States.

Occurrence
Atlantic Ocean

Status history
The species was considered a single unit and designated Special Concern in April 1998. When the species was split into separate populations in May 2003, the Maritimes population was designated Special Concern. When the Maritimes population was further split into two populations (Laurentian South population and Southern population) in April 2010, the Southern population was designated Endangered, and the original Maritimes population was de-activated.



Assessment Summary – April 2010

Common name
Atlantic Cod - Arctic Lakes population

Scientific name
Gadus morhua

Status
Special Concern

Reason for designation
This designatable unit (DU) exists in 3 isolated lakes on Baffin Island, Nunavut. The combined surface area of the 3 lakes is less than 20 km2. Rescue from other DUs is not possible. One of the lakes, Ogac Lake, is accessible for fishing and large numbers of the species may be removed from the lake if fishing increases.

Occurrence
NU

Status history
The species was considered a single unit and designated Special Concern in April 1998. When the species was split into separate populations in May 2003, the Arctic population was designated Special Concern. When the Arctic population was further split into two populations (Arctic Lakes population and Arctic Marine population) in April 2010, the Arctic Lakes population was designated Special Concern, and the original Arctic population was de-activated.



Assessment Summary – April 2010

Common name
Atlantic Cod - Arctic Marine population

Scientific name
Gadus morhua

Status
Data Deficient

Reason for designation
Information to establish any COSEWIC status category with assurance is not available. Data on distribution, abundance, habitat, and changes over time are insufficient.

Occurrence
Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean

Status history
The species was considered a single unit and designated Special Concern in April 1998. When the species was split into separate populations in May 2003, the Arctic population was designated Special Concern. When the Arctic population was further split into two populations (Arctic Lakes population and Arctic Marine population) in April 2010, the Arctic Marine population was designated Data Deficient, and the original Arctic population was de-activated.

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Contact Person(s)

COSEWIC Secretariat
c/o Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0H3
Tel: 819-938-4125
Fax: 819-938-3984
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