The total amount of caplin that fishermen along the northeast, east and south coasts (fishing zones 2J3KLPs) of the province can take this year is 24,396 tonnes, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said Friday in a notice to fishermen.
That’s the same total allowable catch (TAC) as in 2013 for the area.
Over the years, many fishermen and scientists have agreed the health of the cod stocks is directly linked to the health of the caplin stocks.
George Rose, director of the Marine Institute’s Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, said recently the centre’s latest research shows “a strong initial rebuilding” of the northern cod along the northeast coast of the province and a “fairly large increase in caplin this year.”
More favourable ocean conditions — a warming trend — have helped both the cod and caplin, he said.
Rose and his team recently completed survey work aboard the Celtic Explorer, a state-of-the-art research vessel chartered from Galway, Ireland.
Rose said caplin are what has sustained major cod stocks off Newfoundland and Labrador’s coasts for hundreds of years.
“What we are seeing is what looks to be a fairly large increase in caplin this year, and the cod are all over it. They are full of caplin,” Rose said. “They are feeding well. They are in excellent condition, which they weren’t if you want to go back 10 years.”
According to DFO’s website, 2013 survey work carried out by department shows caplin in normal distribution and abundance in areas fished in recent years.
It also states the 2011 and 2012 estimates of abundance from the spring acoustic survey in Division 3L are higher than the 2010 estimate and similar to those of 2007-09, an order of magnitude below estimates of the 1980s. Zooplankton abundance has been above average in recent years and favourable for caplin growth, distribution and spawning.
The notice to fishermen notes the opening dates of the caplin fishing season this year will be determined through consultation with the fishing industry. The season for each gear sector and area will remain open provided there are commercial quantities available and quota remaining.
Management measures for the caplin fishery include:
• It will be subject to at-sea observer coverage and dockside monitoring. A water allowance of three per cent will be applied at dockside;
• Logbooks are to be completed;
• Trap net leaders with a mesh size of greater than two inches to less than seven inches are prohibited as a conservation measure to reduce the by-catch of wild Atlantic Salmon;
• The maximum authorized length of a modified bar seine (i.e. “tuck” seine) for use in the caplin fishery is 80 fathoms.
• Restrictive leasing provisions.
• Caplin buddy-up arrangements permitted in selected areas.
• Daily and seasonal limits.
Full details can be found at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/decisions/fm-2013-gp/atl-018-eng.htm