Ecosystem-based management research for Canada's Sablefish fishery

The fishery for British Columbia's Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) is one of Canada's most valuable marine fisheries. This project addresses the two primary strategic challenges currently facing this fishery: (1) lower harvest quotas aimed at rebuilding the spawning biomass to more productive levels risks the economic sustainability of the industry and (2) future access to fishing grounds could be in jeopardy without improved information about the ecological impacts of fishing on non-target species and seabed habitats. Our research will apply advanced statistical and modeling methods to identify and develop novel ways of utilizing existing fishery databases and fisheries sampling power to address these challenges. We will identify causes underlying Sablefish size-selectivity patterns inb multiple fisheries, as well as conditions leading to undesirable catch and at-sea discarding of juvenile Sablefish and non-target, bycatch species. These analyses will utilize large existing databases of Sablefish tag releases and recoveries, fishery-independent surveys, and detailed set-by-set fishery catch and species composition. We will also use machine learning and spatial modeling techniques to identify the locations, types, and sensitivity of deep sea habitats contacted by Sablefish trap fishing gear based on video, audio, and motion-sensing data obtained from autonomous, deep water camera systems, which we've developed previously.

Intern: 
Beau Doherty, Julie Creamer, Michelle Jones & Sam Johnson
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Sean Cox
Project Year: 
2015
Province: 
British Columbia
Program: