In 1994, the Marine Life Sanctuaries Society created a project to involve the sport diving community in assisting with the collection of data on lingcod populations. At the time the commercial lingcod fishery in the Strait of Georgia had recently been closed, and the sport fishery was restricted by new size limits and annual bag limits. Even still, the lingcod population is only at three to five percent of what it was a century ago.
Today, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre sponsors and organizes the annual Lingcod Egg Mass Survey which uses data collected by volunteer divers to evaluate the status of lingcod populations on the coast of B.C.
Regular participants in the Aquarium’s annual Lingcod Egg Mass Survey will remember fluctuations that they have witnessed over the years as young fish have come up through the population that they study. Porteau Cove, at the north end of the Howe Sound, saw an exceptional number of egg masses in 2014. Porteau Cove may be experiencing a shift in the age structure of the population, as the percentage of large egg masses – produced by the oldest females – declined in 2014 to a level similar to the south of the Sound, albeit with a high total number of egg masses. The greater number of small egg masses (grapefruit and cantaloupe size) indicates that 60 per cent of the population is made up of two and three year old female lingcod.
This year’s 2015 Lingcod Egg Mass Survey runs from January 31 to March 8. To thank the many divers who have been long-time participants of this survey, the Aquarium will provide a “Legacy” diver t-shirt as a memento of the Aquarium’s gratitude for long-term participation.
Visit us online for information on how to participate in this annual diver’s survey and how to record your data. We look forward to the 2015 lingcod egg mass survey results!