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Norway pout
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Norway pout

Norway pout is a small, short- lived fish species in the cod family (Gadidae) that lives at depths ranging from 50-250 meters.

This species is widely distributed in eastern parts of the North Atlantic, but is most common in northern parts of the North Sea in the area east of Shetland (Fladen) and along the western edge of the Norwegian Trench.  They aggregate into dense schools, usually over muddy bottom substrate. 

Spawning takes place from January to May in the area between Shetland and Norway. Eggs and larvae then drift in the upper layers of the water column, and are transported into the Skagerrak. Before maturation, individuals migrate back into northern parts of the North Sea. Approximately 20 % of the population spawns for the first time at age one, while the rest become sexually mature at age two. Recently, spawning grounds have been identified off Lofoten and Vesterålen in northern Norway.

Norway pout constitute an important link in the marine food web: they feed primarily on crustaceans, particularly krill and copepods; and they themselves are prey for a number of larger fish such as cod, whiting, and saithe, and also marine mammals.

Facts about Norway pout

Latin name: Trisopterus esmarkii
Family: Gadidae
Spawning habitat: Northern North Sea and off northern Norway
Diet: Crustaceans, copepods, krill, and chaetognaths (arrow worms)
Life: Up to three years
Maximum size: Rarely exceeds 22 cm and 0.1 kg
Distinctive characteristics: One of the smallest, but also most abundant, groundfish


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Status, advice and fisheries

After several years of poor recruitment, Norway pout spawning stock size fell below critical limits during 2004-2006. A period with better recruitment followed, but by 2010-2011 recruitment again weakened. The 2012 year class was strong, however, and the 2013 year class was of medium strength.  This suggests that the 2014 spawning stock will be above the critical limit

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Espen Johnsen
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