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Bibliography of the Maurice Lamontagne Institute


LESAGE, V., D. BAILLARGEON, S. TURGEON, D.W. DOIDGE, 2009. Harvest statistics for beluga in Nunavik, 2005-2008 ; Statistiques de chasse au béluga au Nunavik, 2005-2008. DFO, Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Research Document ; MPO, Secrétariat canadien de consultation scientifique, Document de recherche, 2009/007, 25 p .

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The Nunavik communities have traditionally harvested beluga along the eastern Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay coasts of northern Quebec. Harvest statistics have been monitored over the last 35 years. Two previous reports summarized the information collected between 1974 and 2004 (Lesage et al. 2001, Lesage & Doidge 2005). The current report provides an update of this information for the period 2005– 2008. Annual harvests declined progressively from an average 450 beluga/yr prior to the introduction of quotas in 1986, to 258 beluga/yr during 1986–2000, 175 beluga/yr during 2001–2004, and 161 beluga/yr during 2005–2008. Compliance with management measures improved after 2002 as indicated by a greater transmission of information through weekly reports, participation in the sampling program, and a general reduction in the total harvest in all regions of the Nunavik. In spite of these improvements, allocations were exceeded almost each year in all regions of Nunavik. Hudson Strait historically supported the largest harvests, and continued to do so during 2005–2008, with 69–92 % of the Nunavik annual harvest. One noticeable change during the period 2001–2008 in comparison with previous years was the large number of communities harvesting in Hudson Strait and the appearance of harvests in non-traditional sites. Although white beluga dominated the harvest during 2005–2008, with 59 % of the total catch, grey beluga, including dark grey animals, represented 41 % of total catches. The sex composition of the harvest indicates that females were killed as often as, or more often than males during this period. This was particularly true for grey beluga, of which females were killed at least twice as often as males. Older beluga were relatively rare in the harvest during 1993 2008 compared with harvests conducted during the 1980s, resulting in a distribution with a median age of 19 to 20 years depending on periods, compared with 26.0 yrs in the 1980s. Beluga killed in Hudson Strait during the 1990s and 2000s were slightly older than those killed in eastern Hudson Bay during the same period.

LESAGE, V., J. KEAYS, S. TURGEON, S. HURTUBISE, 2006. Bycatch of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the gillnet fishery of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, 2000-2002. J. Cetacean Res. Manage., 8(1): 67-78 .

The incidental catch of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the gillnet fishery of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, was examined using: (1) questionnaires mailed to fishermen inquiring about bycatches in 2000 and 2001 (n=2,277 or 44 % of the fishermen with valid licenses); and (2) using data from an at-sea observer programme and sentinel fishery programme in 2001 and 2002. The questionnaire survey had a low response rate (22 %) and provided bycatch estimates of 2,215 (95 % CI 1,151-3,662) and 2,394 (95 % CI 1,440-3,348) porpoises in 2000 and 2001, respectively. The low number of hauls monitored by at-sea observers prevented the estimation of bycatch levels for several zones and the study area as a whole, and provided only imprecise estimates for all other zones. The results from questionnaires indicated a 24-63 % reduction in harbour porpoise bycatches since the late 1980s, whereas the at-sea observer programme provided bycatch levels for 2001 and 2002 that were unreliable and underestimated, approaching one quarter of those documented in the late 1980s. Although both indices indicated a decrease in bycatches since the late 1980s, the magnitude of this change remains uncertain given the weaknesses associated with the two approaches. Considering the maximum population rate of increase (Rmax) for harbour porpoises as 4 % and the lower and upper 95 % confidence limits (1,440-3,348) of our most reliable estimate of bycatches (i.e. the 2001 questionnaire survey results), the harbour porpoise population in the Gulf of St. Lawrence would need to be at least 36,000-83,700 individuals for current incidental catches to be sustainable. If the rate of increase is less than maximal, e.g. 0.5Rmax or 2 %, then 72,000-167,400 harbour porpoises would be needed to attain sustainability. Kingsley and Reeves (1998) estimated that an average 36,000 to 125,000 porpoises occupied the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the summers of 1995 and 1996. Although the trajectory of the population since it was last surveyed in 1996 is uncertain, these findings suggest that bycatch levels might remain a cause for concern for the harbour porpoise population in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The results from the comparison between the sentinel fishery and the commercial fishery subjected and not subjected to at-sea observations suggest that fine-scale temporal and spatial changes in fishing activities may greatly affect harbour porpoise bycatch levels. ©2006 International Whaling Commission

LESAGE, V., J. KEAYS, S. TURGEON, S. HURTUBISE, 2004. Incidental catches of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in the gillnet fishery of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2000-2002. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 2552, 37p .

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The incidental catch of harbour porpoises as a by-catch of the gillnet fishery of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence was evaluated using questionnaires to fishermen in 2000 and 2001, and At-sea Observers and Sentinel Fisheries programs in 2001 and 2002. Of the 2277 fishermen receiving the by-catch questionnaire, 215 (9 %) responded, and 165 reported being actively fishing in 2000 or 2001. Of these, 34 (23%nbsp;%) and 45 (27 %) fishermen recorded having taken a total of 181 and 291 harbour porpoises in 2000 and 2001, respectively. The largest takes were in July and August from zones 4R, Miscou and the North Shore. These takes resulted in mean by-catch rates of 1.25 (SD = 5.0) and 1.76 (SD = 4.7) porpoises per reporting fisherman in 2000 and 2001, respectively. Extrapolation of these by-catch rates to the entire gillnet fishing fleet resulted in an estimated total by-catch of 2180 (95 % CI 1012-3802) and 2478 (95 % CI 1591-3464) porpoises for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2000 and 2001, respectively. For 2001 and 2002, a total of 786 and 882 bottom-set gillnet hauls that were monitored by At-sea observers recorded harbour porpoise by-catches of 4 and 6 individuals, respectively. At-sea observer activities were conducted in close conjunction with the Atlantic cod and Greenland halibut commercial fishery. However, the low number of hauls that were monitored by At-sea observers prevented the calculation of by-catch estimates for several zones and the study area as a whole, and provided only imprecise estimates for all other zones. Sentinel fisheries resulted in 86 and 77 by-catches in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Depending on the year, incidental takes of harbour porpoises by this fishery peaked in late August or early September, even though their activity peaked earlier, in late July to late August in 2001 and 2002, respectively. The number of takes per haul for the Sentinel fishery was higher than that reported through the At-sea Observer program, even though the former was spread over a longer period, when target species of the fishery might have been less abundant. Significant differences in fishing behaviour were observed between commercial fisheries, commercial fisheries with At-sea observers on board, and Sentinel fisheries. Specifically, Sentinel fisheries soaked nets of similar length but of smaller mesh, at deeper depths, for longer periods, and for a lesser quantity of landed fish than was the case for commercial fisheries with an observer on board. In addition, plotting the fishing locations in the Miscou area (NAFO 4Tn) indicated that at least in August and early September 2001, not only was there no overlap in fishing location between Sentinel fisheries and commercial fisheries under the At-Sea Observer program, but there was also no overlap between commercial fisheries with observers on board and commercial fisheries not subject to an at-sea observation. Commercial and Sentinel fisheries generally followed the 60-m isobath, whereas fishing activities with At-sea observers on board occurred in shallower waters, inside Miscou bank. In 2002, periods of activity by At-sea Observer and Sentinel fisheries in Area 4Tn did not overlap in time, but did overlap spatially.