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Consultation Workbook

Species Information

Laurentian North Population

Cod – Laurentian North population of Atlantic Cod (4RS3PN3Ps)

 Cod in this population combine the stocks identified for management purposes by DFO as St. Pierre Bank (NAFO Division 3Ps) and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (NAFO Divisions 3Pn4RS). Respectively, these stocks are located north of the Laurentian Channel, along the south coast of Newfoundland and bordering Quebec.

COSEWIC assessment

 COSEWIC provides the following rationale for designating the Laurentian North population of Atlantic cod (4RS3Pn3Ps) as threatened:

“Cod in the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence and along the south coast of Newfoundland comprise an assemblage of stocks within which there is considerable mixing. They are currently at low levels as a group and overall have declined by about 80% over the past thirty years. However, there is evidence that current levels of abundance are not unprecedented for cod along the south coast of Newfoundland, and the population there has been stable since 1974. Threats to persistence include fishing (now halted in the Northern Gulf), predation by fish and seals, and natural and fishing-induced changes to the ecosystem.”

Threats to cod

 COSEWIC provides the following overview of threats for the cod:

  1. “Fishing (including legal, illegal and unreported catches),representing a greater threat to Northern Gulf Cod. “
  2. “Fishing-induced and natural changes to the ecosystem, resulting in altered levels of inter-specific competition and predation, notably predation by seals and fish on Northern Gulf cod.”
  3. “Alteration of the bottom habitat by fishing gear represents a potential but unevaluated threat.”

Protecting Cod

If added to Schedule 1 of SARA, there would be prohibitions on killing, harming, harassing, capturing, taking, buying, or selling of individuals of the Laurentian North population of Atlantic cod. Only under certain circumstances could fishing for this population of cod be allowed. These reasons include: (1) scientific research that benefits the species, (2) activity that benefits the species or is required to enhance its chances of survival in the wild, (3) affecting the species is incidental to the carrying out of the activity, as long as the activity will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the population. In cases where cod is taken as by catch in other fisheries, it may be difficult to limit catches of cod without affecting landings of the target species.

Potential Impacts on Stakeholders

 If added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk, the Laurentian North population of Atlantic cod  would be protected.  If particular activities are assessed to be a threat to the survival and recovery of a listed species, management measures would be put in place to limit those activities and ensure the protection of species at risk.

 These measures may lead to a variety of impacts on stakeholders, including additional costs.  The following list of stakeholders is not exhaustive; please use this consultation as an opportunity to list omissions:


Management strategies that could affect aboriginal people fishing for commercial species in areas inhabited by cod may be considered.

Fishing Industry

It is important to fully determine the extent of potential threats to cod by any fishing activities. If a particular fishing activity is identified to be a threat to the survival and recovery of a listed species, management measures will be taken to address the threat.  These measures could include increased fisheries closures, observer coverage in certain areas, closed areas, gear modifications, or other measures developed in collaboration with industrythat willhelp prevent and minimize interactions.

Oil and Gas Industry

 The effects of the oil and gas industry on groundfish populations are poorly understood. Seismic testing may have a deleterious effect on demersal fish, eggs and larvae. Proposed oil and gas activities that fall under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) will need to address the impacts on SARA listed species in accordance with this legislation.

Research Activity

 Those wishing to carry out research on the Laurentian North population of Atlantic cod or in areas of their habitat may be required to comply with strict guidelines.  This may limit the types and/or durations of research permitted and may lengthen the preparation time required for planning research projects.