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COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Atlantic wolffish Anarhichas lupus in Canada

Technical Summary


Anarchichas lupus Linnaeus 1758       Loup d’Atlantique


·     extent of occurrence (sq km)                > 106 km2
·     area of occupancy (sq km)                Unknown
·     range jurisdictions (occurs in which provinces& territories?)                NF,NS,NB,PEI,QC, Nunavut

Population information

·     total number of individuals in Canadian population       Many
·     number of mature individuals (capable of reproduction) in the Canadian population       Unknown
·     generation time (indicate years, months, days, etc.)         6 years
·     population trend (decline, stable, increase, unknown)           Decline
·     if in decline, % decline over 10 years or 3 generations whichever is greater (or specify if for shorter time period)          
91% since 1978 in area of greatest abundance
·     number of sub-populations (geographically or otherwise distinct groups between which there is little exchange i.e. <= 1 successful migrant / year)        Unknown
·        number of individuals in each sub-population         Unknown
·        number of extant sites         Unknown
·        number of historic sites from which species has been extirpated          In 1994, found in ca. 10% of survey sites
·     is the population severely fragmented (most individuals found within small and relatively isolated sub-populations)?           Yes
·     does the species undergo extreme fluctuations (population size or distribution area varies widely, rapidly, and frequently (typically > 1 order of magnitude)?          No

Threats (actual or imminent threats to populations or habitats)

Anthropogenic influence: aggressive fishing for other species where wolffish is taken as by catch and probably dies
Habitat loss: nesting and shelter habitat can be extensively damaged by bottom trawls

Rescue Effect (immigration from an outside source)

·     does species exist elsewhere (in Canada or outside)?        Yes
·     status of the outside population(s)?          Declining
·     is immigration possible?           Yes
·     would immigrants be adapted to survive here?       Probably      
·     is there sufficient habitat for immigrants here?              Unknown

Quantitative Analysis: available from scientific survey data, including joint US-Canada East Coast of North America Strategic Assessment Project (ECNASAP) database
Sources of Information: ECNASAP database; DFO scientific survey cruises 1978-2000.  Literature cited in report.