Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Atlantic Cod - Grand Bank
Marine Resource  Fact Sheet
Stocks management recommendations 2018
Atlantic Cod - Grand Bank
Fact Sheet Citation  
Cod in Div. 3NO
Owned byNorthwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) – More
Related observationsLocate in inventorydisplay tree map
FAO Names: en - Atlantic cod, fr - Morue de l'Atlantique, es - Bacalao del Atlántico, zh - 大西洋鳕, ru - Треска атлантическая
Geographic extent of Atlantic Cod - Grand Bank
Main Descriptors
Considered a single stock: Yes        Spatial Scale: Regional
Management unit: Yes        Reference year: 2017
Biological State and Trend
State & Trend Descriptors
Exploitation rateNone-Low Fishing MortalityNo or low fishing mortalityRed
Abundance levelDepleted Stock SizeDepleted

The spawning biomass increased noticeably between 2010 and 2015 but has subsequently declined and the 2018 estimate of 18,537 t represents only 31% of Blim (60,000 t). The 2006 year class remains relatively strong and at age 12 in 2018 makes up more than half of the estimated SSB. Subsequent year classes are much weaker, suggesting that the medium-term prospects for the stock are not good. Fishing mortality values over the past decade have been low and well below Flim (0.3).
Habitat and Biology
Climatic zone: Temperate.   Bottom type: Unspecified.   Depth zone: Slope - Deepslope (500 m - 1000 m).   Horizontal distribution: Neritic.   Vertical distribution: Demersal/Benthic.  

Geographical Distribution
Jurisdictional distribution: Straddling between High Seas and EEZ

Water Area Overview
Spatial Scale: Regional

Geo References
Resource Structure
Considered a single stock: Yes

A moratorium was implemented in 1994. Catches since that time are by-catch in other fisheries.

Recent catch estimates and TACs (‘000 tonnes) are:
  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
TAC ndf ndf ndf ndf ndf ndf ndf ndf ndf ndf
STATLANT 21 0.6 0.8 0.8 0.7 1.1 0.7 0.5 0.6 0.6  
STACFIS 1.1 0.9 0.8 0.7 1.1 0.7 0.6 0.7 0.6  

ndf: No directed fishery

Effects of the fishery on the ecosystem
Overall Assessment Results
Reference Point

Blim: 60 000 t of spawning biomass (SC, 1999)

Flim (=Fmsy):0.3 (SC, 2011).

A decision was made to not project the stock forward because the 2006 year class, which in 2018 is age 12 and makes up more than half of the estimated SSB, will no longer be part of the virtual population starting in 2019. This is a limitation of the current model formulation which ends at age 12 (i.e. there is no plus group) and any attempt to project the stock forward would be characterized by the ‘artificial’ removal of this strong year class from the population. Revising the assessment model to incorporate a plus group is considered of high priority for this assessment going forward. Although projections of the stock were not performed, the poor strength of year classes subsequent to 2006 suggests that the medium-term prospects for the stock are not good.
Assessment Model
Analytical assessment

A sequential population analysis model was used, and the results were consistent with the previous assessment. Input data comes from research surveys and commercial removals.

The next assessment is planned for 2021.

Fishing Mortality



Human impact

Mainly bycatch related fishery mortality has been documented. Other sources (e.g. pollution, shipping, oil-industry) are undocumented.

Biological and environmental interactions

Productivity of this stock was above average during the warm 1960s. During the cold 1990s, productivity was very low and surplus production was near zero. The Grand Bank (3LNO) EPU is currently experiencing low productivity conditions and biomass has declined across multiple trophic levels and stocks since 2014.
Scientific Advice

Special comments
Management unit: Yes

Management Advice

Recommendation for 2019 -2021

No directed fishing in 2019 to 2021 to allow for stock rebuilding. By-catches of cod in fisheries targeting other species should be kept at the lowest possible level. Projections of the stock were not performed, but given the poor strength of all year classes subsequent to 2006, the stock will not reach Blim in the next three years.
Management Objectives

General convention objectives are applied in conjunction with an Interim Conservation Plan and Rebuilding Strategy adopted in 2011 (NAFO/FC Doc. 11/22). The long-term objective of this plan is to achieve and to maintain the spawning stock biomass in the “safe zone” of the NAFO PA framework (FC Doc. 04/18), and at or near Bmsy.

Stock definition for management purposes

The stock occurs in Divs. 3NO, with fish occupying shallow parts of the bank, particularly the southeast shoal area (Div. 3N) in summer and on the slopes of the bank in winter.
Source of information
Report of the Meeting, 01 -14 June, 2018 - SCS Doc. 18/19.
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