ICES has issued its guidance for 2021 Barents Sea quotas, with increases for the three main stocks of cod, haddock and saithe north of 62°N.
According to Audun Maråk, director of Norwegian vessel owners’ federation Fiskebåt, these stocks are all in good condition and harvested sustainably.
‘Despite a difficult market situation, it is highly positive that the most important white fish stocks north of 62°N are harvested sustainably and with increased quota recommendations. Increased quotas will contribute positively to activity and value creation along the coast,’ he said.
The ICES advice for north-east Arctic cod is for an 885,000 tonne quota, with the increase over last year’s figure limited by the stability regulation that allows a variation of no more than 20% from one year to the next. ICES notes that the current stock model has proved to be unstable, therefore the stock will undergo a method revision in 2021.
In line with the Norwegian-Russian management plan, ICES recommends a total catch of up to 232,537 tonnes of northeast Arctic haddock, up 8.2%. The 2016 and 2017 year classes are relatively strong and it is expected that the spawning biomass will increase slightly in the coming year.
The northeast Arctic haddock stock underwent a method revision this winter and some important improvements were made to the stock model. This has not affected the level of last year’s stock estimate in any way, but it is hoped that the model will be more stable than it was after the previous method revision.
In line with the Norwegian management plan, ICES recommends a total catch of up to 197,779 tonnes of northeast Arctic saithe, up 15% from the quota in 2020, limited by the management plan’s stability rule and increased due to a relatively low fishing pressure.
ICES recommends that the Greenland halibut quota should not exceed 23,000 tonnes in 2021 and while the stock is judged to be in good condition, it has shown a declining trend with increasing fish mortality. For this stock a new reference point for fishing press (Fpa or Fmsy) was to be calculated, but due to covid-19 this work was postponed and the spring’s advice was repeated without changes.
A zero quota for golden redfish is recommended for both 2021 and 2022, with the stock judged to be over-exploited as by-catch of other fisheries and with its spawning biomass though to be below a critical level. For deep redfish, a 66,158 tonne quota for 2021 and 67,210 tonnes for 2022 is recommended.
For the coastal cod fishery, ICES recommends that if the spawning stock index in the 2020 autumn survey is lower than the 2019 index, then the aim should be for a reduction in fish mortality of at least 75% compared to 2009. If If the index is higher than in 2019, reduction of fish mortality in 2020 of at least 60% should be aimed for.
ICES also recommends a new coastal cod regeneration plan be drafted since this has had little effect on fishing pressure, which in 2019 was estimated to be higher than in the 2009 reference year. ICES plans for the stock to undergo a method revision in 2021.