Gjøsæter has been cruise leader on the final leg of the Barents Sea ecosystem survey conducted annually by Norway’s Institute of Marine Research. The survey was completed in Kirkenes just this weekend, but already scientists have conclude that last year's record for the northernmost distribution of cod has been broken.
This year cod were documented to occur as far as 82 degrees and 30 minutes north (82o 30’ N). This observation was made by scientists aboard the Russian research vessel "Vilnyus".
- These northernmost observations involve only a limited number of fish, but we also observe an overall tendency of Northeast Arctic cod extending farther northward and eastward. This is likely due to two factors: 1) the preferred water temperature for cod is also extending northward; and 2) there they find an adequate food supply, says Gjøsæter.
Overlaps with capelin
Oceanographers use both trawl and acoustic instruments to survey fish stocks in the Barents Sea, and studies show that cod stocks and capelin overlap in distribution.
- Capelin stock is also strong, so it appears that cod has enough food. In addition, eat cod both krill, polar cod and a good deal of benthos. Thus, it appears that cod stocks will remain at a high level in the coming years, says Gjøsæter.
In recent years, both fishermen and marine scientists asked whether there is enough food in the ocean to feed on the large cod stocks. Last winter there were also some fishermen who believed that vertical quota was set too high for 2012.
- I think we were careful when we recommended quota for this year, and all indications are that capelin have fared well. Our studies show that spawning has gone very well, and that the amount of this year’s fry (0-group) is at record levels. It bodes well for the further development of the most important fish species in the Barents Sea, end Gjøsæter.