Journal Article

Monitoring coastal northern cod: towards an optimal survey of Smith Sound, Newfoundland

George A Rose

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 3, pages 453-462
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Monitoring coastal northern cod: towards an optimal survey of Smith Sound, Newfoundland

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  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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The extant, coastal northern cod (Gadus morhua) have over-wintered and spawned in Smith Sound, Newfoundland, since 1995, and acoustic surveys have been conducted in several seasons since then. Cod move into the Sound in late fall, over-winter in a dense, size- and age-structured aggregation, spawn between late March and early June and then disperse into and beyond Trinity Bay during summer to feed. The optimal survey time for biomass estimation is January–February, when the waters are ice-free and the cod are in mono-specific, relatively stationary, and well-defined aggregations with the highest densities and are typically clear of “bottom returns”. Biomass surveys have been conducted in mid-January since 1999. An error analysis indicated the main sources of uncertainty to be density variability and target strength (TS). Repeated quasi-synoptic (10 h) surveys were the optimal means of producing an estimate of uncertainty about population size. Some vertical movement led to night-time surveys consistently having higher estimates than day-time surveys by approximately 15%. Detectability ranged from 73 to 86% and deadzone-corrected, acoustic measures did not differ from swept-area densities found by bottom trawling. Biomass scaling by TS used length-dependant dB/kg to reduce the size-sampling error. Overall, population biomass doubled in approximately 7 years, consistent with a rate of increase around 0.2, largely through recruitment. The surveys are internally consistent and indicate instantaneous rates of mortality among year classes of 0.3 to >2 (very high on older fish) and provide a method for monitoring the annual biomass (cv<40%).

Keywords: acoustic surveys; Atlantic cod; detectability; northern cod; Smith Sound; Newfoundland

Journal Article.  4686 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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