The Scotian Shelf Experience with Emerging Bivalve Fisheries

The Scotian Shelf Experience with Emerging Bivalve Fisheries

Dale Roddick

The Scotian Shelf Experience with Emerging Bivalve FisheriesThis is part of Fisheries Assessment and Management in Data-Limited Situations
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The development of commercial fisheries for off shore bivalves on Canada's East Coast is reviewed. The arctic surfclam fishery and the ocean quahog population, for which there is currently no fishery but increasing interest, are examined. For the arctic surfclam fishery a government survey took place prior to the fishery in 1981-1982, and an industry-funded survey was conducted in 1996-1997. This fishery has extensive industry involvement in funding sampling and research programs which have increased understanding of the life history of the species involved and aided management of the resource. The crew on the vessels regularly sample the catch for length frequencies, conversion factors, and bycatch, and collect samples of whole clams for morphometric analysis and aging of shells at a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) laboratory.

DFO has data for the ocean quahog population from the 1981-1982 survey, and can make comparisons to other populations that have on-going fisheries. Different methods of determining the sustainable yield for these data limited populations are discussed, yield estimates for the arctic surfclam fishery examined, and a yield estimate for a possible ocean quahog fishery defined.

Current management is based on setting long term allowable catch levels, as there are no annual surveys and little contrast in the data. With the movement toward ecosystem based management more information will be required on the effects of the fishery on other species.

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