Capelin (Mallotus villosus) Fall Feeding: An Energetic Bottleneck Limiting the Recovery of Newfoundland Stocks?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014: 9:20 AM
304A (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Erin Carruthers , Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research, Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University, St. John's, NF, Canada
Frances Mowbray , Pelagics Section, Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, St. John's, NF, Canada
Capelin (Mallotus villosus) was the key forage species in the Newfoundland and Labrador shelf ecosystem. The northern capelin stock complex collapsed in the early 1990s and has yet to recover. Capelin feed offshore during fall and spring before migrating inshore to spawn. Capelin fat content is highest following the fall feeding season. Thus, fall feeding success is likely critical to survival, gonad development, and spawning the following spring. Persistent changes to the age structure suggest reduced survival, growth, and reproduction among older capelin. Historically, most spawning capelin were three and four year old fish. Post-collapse, two and three year old fish account for the majority of fish sampled during the spring survey and account for the majority of fish caught during the summer inshore roe fishery. However, fall feeding intensity, diet composition, and the presence of key zooplankton prey species has not been examined. Using stomach contents data, we determine fall feeding levels across capelin age classes and test whether feeding levels were sufficient for survival, growth, and reproduction.