Based on the most recent estimates of SSB, ICES classifies the stock as having full reproductive capacity and to be harvested sustainably. The spawning stock biomass has been above the precautionary level since 2002, and is now the highest observed in the period from 1946 to present. Fishing mortality was reduced from well above the critical level (Flim) in 1999 to below the precautionary level in 2007, and is now close to the lowest observed value since 1946. Surveys indicate that the year classes 2010–2012 are slightly above the long-term mean. 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.
Harvest control rule
The agreed harvest control rule (HCR) gives a quota of 993 000 tonnes for 2014.
ICES recommends following the HCR. In regulations of this stock one should further take into account the need to protect coastal cod and golden redfish.
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 2013: 0.23. This is equal to the fishing mortality in 2012.
Expected SSB in 2014: 2 106 000 tonnes
The current stock size is about the same as calculated in last year’s assessment. A quota reduction is expected from 2015 onwards.
IMR support the ICES advice, but emphasize the uncertainties in this assessment related both to catch and survey data. There have been reductions in biological sampling of both Norwegian and Russian commercial catches, which increases the uncertainty in the assessment.
In the Joint winter survey 2013, Norway wanted to rent a commercial fishing boat in addition to the research vessel Johan Hjort. However, due to low cod prices and payment in quotas, no commercial vessels were interested in participating. To compensate for fewer vessel days, it was decided to open up the Norwegian station grid (i.e. the stations were placed farther apart). Due to good weather and extra effort from the Russian vessel, the total coverage was good, but a lower number of stations increase the uncertainty in the estimates.