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The marine researchers Bjarte Bogstad (left) Maria Fossheim and Harald Gjøsæter presented the quota advices in Tromsø today.
Photo: Gunnar Sætra
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Recommends reducing cod quota by 20%

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) recommends that the cod quota in the Barents Sea next year does not exceed 712,000 tonnes. This is a reduction of 20% compared to this year’s quota.

“We are experiencing a natural decline in Atlantic cod stocks, which we need to take into consideration,” says the Research Director at the Institute of Marine Research, Geir Huse.

In recent years, the quotas for Northeast Arctic cod have been at record high levels. The quota peaked in 2013 when 1,000,000 tonnes could be caught, and the quotas have remained at roughly this level. The quota for 2017 is 890,000 tonnes.

Huse says that the high quota levels in recent years can mostly be attributed to the good cod year classes for 2004 and 2005. “We see that the year classes after this weaker, which leads to a natural decline in the stocks,” says Huse.

 

 

Still large stock
Marine Researcher Bjarte Bogstad, who is the scientist responsible for cod in the Barents Sea, emphasizes that there is a good stock of Northeast Arctic cod in the Barents Sea.

“The stock contains many older and large individuals. During this year’s Northeast Arctic cod survey, the Institute of Marine Research caught a coffee cod for the first time,” says Bogstad. A ‘coffee cod’ is a Northeast Arctic cod of over 30 kg. The term was introduced by the Lofotposten newspaper, which offered one kilo of coffee to anyone who caught such a fish.

Other species

Marine Researcher Harald Gjøsæter is Norway’s representative on the ICES Advisory Committee (ACOM).  He informs that ICES recommends changes to the quotas for several other fish species north of 62° N.

“It is recommended that the haddock quota is reduced from 233,000 tonnes to 202,305 tonnes (-13%), and the saithe quota is increased from 150,000 tonnes to 172,500 tonnes (+15%). ICES also recommends that the Greenland halibut quota be 23,000 tonnes, which is 1,000 tonnes lower than this year’s quota. The quota for the beaked redfish should not exceed 32,658 tonnes in 2018, compared with 30,000 tonnes this year, which is an increase of 9 per cent,” says Gjøsæter. ICES does not recommend any specific quota for coastal cod north of 62° N. Instead, ICES recommends that the rebuilding plan for this stock is followed up.

The final quotas for cod, haddock, beaked redfish and Greenland halibut will be fixed by the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission in October, while the saithe quota is fixed by Norway.

 

35kgskrei
During this year’s Northeast Arctic cod survey, the Institute of Marine Research caught a coffee cod for the first time. Harald Senneset and Silje Seim with a skrei weighing 35 kg. Photo: Knut Korsbrekke

 

Good research cooperation

Norwegian and Russian marine researchers the knowledge on which the ICES quota recommendations are based. The Programme Director of the Marine Research Institute's Barents Sea Ecosystem Programme, Maria Fossheim, says that the Institute of Marine Research has had formalised cooperation with its sister institute PINRO in Murmansk for almost 60 years.

“This covers the survey activities in the Barents Sea, data collection and analysis, method development and consulting. We have performed a joint ecosystem survey every autumn since 2004, during which we investigate the Barents Sea “from top to toe”. We survey the entire marine ecosystem from the smallest phytoplankton to the largest marine mammals, register waste, and take water samples that are analysed for chemical and radioactive pollution, etc. This has enabled us to understand the ecosystem better and to provide the best possible advice to the authorities concerning fishing quotas and other human use of the sea,” she concludes.

Facts about Northeast Arctic cod

Latin name: Gadus morhua
Family: Cod family
Maximum size: 169 cm and 55 kg
Distribution: The warm side of the Polar Front in the Barents Sea
Main spawning area: Lofoten/Vesterålen
Spawning time: February-April
Diet: Mainly fish
 

Northeast arctic cod