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Dealing with data-poor fisheries: A case study of the big skate (Raja binoculata) in British Columbia's groundfish fishery

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Groundfish fisheries target big skate (Raja binoculata) off the British Columbia coast. Catch comes mainly from Queen Charlotte Sound (QCS) and North Hecate Strait (NHS). Until now, sufficient data to evaluate stock status was not available. I parameterized a Graham-Schaefer model using catch (1996-2010), catch-per-unit-effort (1996-2010), and fishery-independent surveys (1984-2009) to estimate current abundance. QCS and NHS appear stable at their median estimated carrying capacities of 698,000 and 501,000 tonnes. Maximum sustainable yield (MSY) equalled 21,800 and 16,200 tonnes for QCS and NHS. Depletion-corrected average catch (DCAC) potential yield, a conservative estimate of MSY, equalled 17,500 and 13,000 tonnes for QCS and NHS. DCAC sustainable yield, total removals that may likely maintain a stock at current abundance, equalled 370 and 330 tonnes for QCS and NHS. To maintain current abundance, managers should monitor catches and keep them similar to historic catches since they do not appear to affect population dynamics.
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