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Northeast Arctic Saithe

Northeast Arctic saithe have muscular bodies, and are good swimmers. They are easily recognized due to their relatively small under jaw and pronounced white lateral line. 

They are both pelagic and bottom dwelling fish, and may occur at depths ranging from 0 to 300 meters. They often occur in dense concentrations where the currents concentrate pelagic prey. Primary food items for young saithe are copepods, krill, and other pelagic crustaceans, while older fish largely feed on fish such as herring, sprat, blue whiting, haddock, and Norway pout. It is an active gregarious species that may undergo extensive feeding and spawning migrations.

Adult saithe follow Norwegian spring-spawning herring far out into the Norwegian Sea, sometimes all the way to Iceland and the Faroe Islands. The most important spawning grounds in Norwegian waters are outside the Lofoten area , the banks outside Helgeland, Møre and Romsdal, and Tampen and the Viking Bank in the North Sea. Eggs and larvae are carried north by the currents.

The fry become established in the littoral zone along the coasts from Western Norway and northwards to the southeastern part of the Barents Sea. It migrates out to the coastal banks at age 2-4 years..Saithe occur only in the North Atlantic. In the western part there is a small population at the border between Canada and USA.

In the Northeast Atlantic saithe is divided into six stocks primarily in the area west of Ireland, west of Scotland, at the Faroe Islands, at Iceland, in the North Sea, and along the Norwegian coast north of Stad. Tagging studies have shown that migrations occur between populations. From the southern areas of the Norwegian coast there can be extensive migration of young saithe to the North Sea, while older fish migrate from northern regions to Iceland and the Faroe Islands. There are few examples of saithe immigration to the Norwegian coast.

Facts about Northeast Arctic Saithe

Latin name: Pollachius virens
Family: Gadidae (cod and haddock)
Maximum size: 20 kg and 130 cm
Lifespan: Up to 30 years
Distribution: Along the Norwegian coast from Stad to Kola Peninsula
Spawning area: Primarily coastal banks from Lofoten to the North Sea
Spawning time: Winter - peaking in February
Diet: Copepods, krill and other pelagic crustaceans, herring, sprat, blue whiting, juvenile haddock, and Norway pout
Predator: Seals and whales
Characteristics: Occurs in dense aggregations where currents concentrates pelagic prey

Status and advice

ICES classifies the stock as being harvested sustainably.

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