Based on the most recent estimates of SSB, ICES classifies the stock as having full reproductive capacity. The SSB has been above Bpa since 2002. Fishing mortality was reduced from well above Flim in 1999 to below Fpa in 2007. As predicted last year, surveys indicate that cod recruitment is anticipated to be close to the long-term mean in 2009 and below the average in 2010 and 2011. Based on a report from the joint Norwegian-Russian analysis group which calculates total cod catches, the IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated)-catches were set to zero.
Compared to the stock assessment made last year there is hardly any change. The total stock and spawning stock size in 2009 both changed by less than 5%. The fishing mortality in 2008 was adjusted slightly upwards (by 0.02).
Harvest control rule
In the harvest control rule (HCR) agreed by the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission an extra condition was added in autumn 2009: The fishing mortality should not fall below 0.30 if the spawning stock biomass is above the precautionary level. The harvest control rule with this extra condition was this year evaluated by ICES and found to be consistent with the precautionary approach. The agreed HCR gives a quota for 2011 of 703 000 tonnes. It is assumed that this includes all catches.
ICES recommends following the HCR. In regulations of this stock one should further take into account the need to protect coastal cod and redfish.
Key figures for the prognosis
Critical level of spawning stock (Blim) = 220 000 tonnes
Precautionary level of spawning stock (Bpa) = 460 000 tonnes
Critical level of fishing mortality (Flim) = 0.74
Precautionary level of fishing mortality (Fpa) = 0.40
Expected fishing mortality in 2010: 0.28. This is equal to the fishing mortality in 2009.
Expected SSB in 2011: 1 488 000 tonnes
Recommended TAC 2010: 577 500 tonnes
Agreed TAC 2010: 607 000 tonnes
Recommended TAC 2011: 703 000 tonnes
Comments by IMR
IMR supports the ICES advice. The condition of maximum 10% increase in the quota from year to year is over-ruled by the condition that the fishing mortality should not fall below 0.30, which corresponds to a TAC in 2011 of 703 000 tonnes. Fishing at the precautionary level will give 896 000 tonnes.
ICES plans to move towards advice based on Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). It is assumed that the present harvest control rule gives a long-term yield close to the maximum.
The spawning stock level is at an all-time high, while the total stock level is above the long-term average. As the year classes which have not yet entered the fishery are below average, it is expected that the stock will stabilize at the current level in the following years if the harvest control rule is followed.
The food supply is good at present since the capelin stock is at a medium to high level and most other prey stocks also are at a healthy level. Growth and maturation seems to be stable.
The figures show spawning biomass and fishing mortality for North-East Arctic cod.