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Science Projects

Cod Sentinel Surveys

Since 1994, Cod Sentinel harvesters have collected information on Atlantic cod catch, distribution, and health or condition. These data re used in stock assessments for cod stocks on the south coast (3Ps), west and southwest coasts (3Pn4R), and along the east coast of Newfoundland and southern Labrador (2J3KL).

Collaborative Post-Season (CPS) Snow Crab Survey

This collaborative survey with DFO began twenty years ago, in part to collect information on exploitable biomass remaining after the fishing season. Recent improvements to the CPS include having a small mesh pot at each of the 1200+ stations and expanding the survey footprint, resulting in better information on incoming recruits and on female crab. Over 85 fishing enterprises participate in the survey each year.

Lobster Logbook Program

Lobster harvesters collect information on catch rates and sizes, v-notched females, and egg clutches. In 2023, close to 100 harvesters participated in the program, reporting increased catch rates from almost all Lobster Fishing Areas in the province.  

Cod Tagging

Cod tagging programs provide information on cod movements. Return data can be used to estimate fishing mortality levels. Data from cod tagging programs can also be used to help estimate catch in the recreational cod fishery. Over the past three years, FFAW has tagged and released 10,777 cod from the three cod stocks in Newfoundland and Labrador waters.

Atlantic Halibut Longline Surveys and Tagging Programs

FFAW was instrumental in developing the Atlantic halibut longline survey and tagging program in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST). This project is a collaboration between DFO and fish harvester organizations in four provinces. FFAW is a regional coordinator for the southern stock survey and tagging program.


Substantial recruitment and recovery of redfish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, known as Unit I Redfish, is a crucial economic opportunity for Gulf of St. Lawrence harvesters. The FFAW redfish science program evaluated gear and fishing practices to sustainably fish redfish species while minimizing bycatch of Atlantic halibut, thereby ensuring sustainability for both fisheries.


Fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador have observed substantial mackerel in NL waters –  observations which are at odds with DFO’s assessment of stock status. FFAW has summarized observations from 142 harvesters and brought these data to stock assessments. FFAW has also collaborated with DFO to secure adult mackerel samples from 4R and 3Ps during the spawning season, as well as from young-of-the-year mackerel from the northeast coast (3KL).

Lost Gear Recovery Project

The goal of the lost gear or ghost gear project is to recover – and safely dispose of – abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear. To date the project has retrieved a total of 55 metric tons of gear primarily from southern Labrador (2J) and the south coast of Newfoundland (3Pn & 3Ps). Recovered gear includes gear lost during Hurricane Fiona as well as legacy gear from pre-moratorium wharfs and fishing grounds.

Green Crab Removal

The European Green Crab is an invasive species that competes with and preys upon commercial species such as lobster. The 5-Year Green Crab Mitigation Program in Placentia Bay and Fortune Bay was facilitated by the FFAW from 2017-22, during which the invasive species was harvested and destroyed. A total of 16 sites collected and disposed of a grand total of 374,669 individual green crabs.