ICES has recommended that the cod quota in the Barents Sea should not exceed 674,678 tonnes next year. This is a reduction of 100,000 tonnes in relation to this year’s quota. According to Geir Huse at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, a natural decline in stocks has to be taken into consideration.
He said that in recent years quotas for north-eastern cod been at record levels, peaking in 2013 with a million tonne cod quota and this level has been maintained since, while this year’s quota is for 775,000 tonnes. He commented that these robust quotas can be attributed to strong 2004 and 2005 year classes.
‘We see that it weakens in the following years as we get a natural decline in the stock,’ Geir Huse said, commenting that ICES believes the stock of cod in the Barents Sea is large, that as it is sustainably harvested, it has full capacity to reproduce.
ICES advised a quota of 712,000 tonnes for the north-east cod in 2018, but the Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission set the quota at 775,000 tonnes.
Marine Researcher Harald Gjøsæter is Norway’s representative in the ICES Advisory Committee (ACOM). He states that ICES recommends changes in quotas for several of the other fish species north of 62°N.
‘The recommended haddock quota is reduced from 202,305 tonnes to 152,000 tonnes and the recommended saithe quota is reduced from 172,500 tonnes to 149,550 tonnes,’ he said.
Norwegian and Russian scientists provide the data on which the ICES quota recommendations are based. The head of the Marine Research Institute’s Barents Sea Programme, Maria Fossheim, said that the Institute of Marine Research and the sister institute Pinro in Murmansk have had formal cooperation for 60 years.
‘Since 2004, we have conducted a joint ecosystem survey every autumn, when we examine the Barents Sea ‘from top to toe’. That is, we investigate the entire marine ecosystem, from the physical conditions such as temperature and currents, through nutrients and the smallest phytoplankton – and to the largest marine mammals. We also record garbage, take water samples that are analysed for both chemical and radioactive contamination, etc. This has enabled us to understand the ecosystem better and thus provide the basis for providing the best possible management advice, both in terms of fishing quotas and other human uses off the sea,’ she said.