Norwegian fishing leader, Kåre Heggebø, has expressed their concern over some pelagic fishing opportunities in 2024
“I am concerned about herring,” says the leader of the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association, Kåre Heggebø said as he spoke to his members after the ICES advice on pelagic fishing opportunities for 2024.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) recommends a significant reduction in its advice for Norwegian spring-spawning herring (NVG) for 2024. Also, mackerel is slightly reduced, while blue whiting is increased.
Kåre Heggebø states that his concern for NVG is due to the absence of signs of new strong year-classes, combined with overfishing beyond scientific advice, which is due to the lack of coastal state agreements.
“All parties should therefore now demonstrate responsibility and strive to keep fishing pressure within the quota advice,” says Kåre Heggebø.
Regarding mackerel, Heggebø refers to the resource researcher at Fiskebåt, Gjert Dingsør, who says that it is unfortunate for trust in the advice that the mackerel stock is upgraded year after year.
“The blue whiting stock is a bright spot. The stock appears to be in good condition, based on the very strong 2021 and 2022 year-classes, with the 2021 year-class receiving a significant upgrade compared to last year’s assessment,” Heggebø points out.
“It is unfortunate for the trust in the advice that the mackerel stock is adjusted up year after year,” writes resource researcher in Fiskebåt, Gjert Dingsør
The state of some pelagic stocks has become a grave concern for scientists at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (HI).
On NVG-Herring, Erling Kåre Stenevik who is responsible for the stock says, “The stock is declining due to high fishing pressure and the lack of recruitment after the 2016 year-class. In 2024, the stock will fall below the precautionary threshold in the harvest control rule.”
Leif Nøttestad, responsible for the mackerel tock expressed concern saying, “Record-high mackerel catches have been taken in the last 10 years, averaging more than 1 million tons annually. Fishing mortality has increased in recent years and is now higher than the level (FMSY) that provides maximum long-term yield for the mackerel stock,” says.
On blue whiting, Bjarte Bogstad, researcher and ICES representative at the Institute of Marine Research says, “It has been good recruitment in recent years, with record-strong 2020-2021 year-classes.”
On the concerns over horse mackerel he says, “”We now estimate that the spawning stock will be below the critical threshold in 2025, even with zero fishing.”
The Norwegians say that are worried that a lack of international agreement poses a challenge in preserving critical pelagic fish stocks.
With the exception of horse mackerel, all stocks are estimated to be above the precautionary threshold in 2023. However, NVG-herring will fall below the precautionary threshold in 2024.
A challenge for NVG-herring, mackerel, and blue whiting is the lack of international agreements.
“This has led to fishing well above the recommendations in recent years, and we now see that this particularly affects NVG-herring, where the spawning stock falls below the precautionary threshold,” says Bogstad.
Here’s the essence of the pelagic advice on Friday:
Norwegian Spring-Spawning Herring (NVG):
ICES recommends, in accordance with the adopted management plan between Norway, the EU, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Russia, a total catch of up to 390,010 tons in 2024, down 24% from the agreed quota for 2023 (511,171 tons). The spawning stock is predicted to fall below the trigger point in 2024, and the quota advice is therefore not limited by the stability clause of -20%. The fact that the stock falls below the trigger point also reduces the desired fishing pressure from 0.14 to 0.124. It is still the strong 2016 year-class that contributes the most to the stock. By summing the national quotas, ICES calculates that approximately 693 thousand tons will be caught in 2023, equivalent to a fishing mortality rate of 0.19. This is above FMSY (0.157) and FMGT (0.14).
The stock is on a declining trend. Due to weak year-classes after 2016, it is expected that the stock will continue to decrease. ICES predicts that the stock will fall below MSY Btrigger in 2024 and is expected to decline further until 2025, even if total catches are limited to the quota advice. Further overfishing will worsen this situation. The Russian recruitment survey in the Barents Sea has not been conducted for the past two years, but this is assumed to have little impact on the quota advice.
ICES recommends, in accordance with the MSY approach, a total catch of up to 739,386 tons in 2024, which is down 5% from the advice for 2023 (782,066 tons). ICES assesses the fishing pressure in 2023 to be 0.38, which is above FMSY (0.26) and the precautionary level Fpa (0.36). The spawning stock is in good biological condition and well above the MSY Btrigger of 2.58 million tons. The stock is on a declining trend, but good 2019 and 2020 year-classes and an upgrade of the stock help maintain the spawning stock at a stable level.
ICES recommends, in accordance with the agreed management plan between Norway, the EU, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland, a total catch of up to 1,529,754 tons in 2024, up 13% from the agreed quota for 2023 (1,359,629 tons). The stock is in good biological condition, and the spawning stock is predicted to be 6.8 million tons in 2024. The sum of national quotas suggests that catches in 2023 will be approximately 1.67 million tons. This corresponds to a fishing mortality rate of 0.52, which is above FMSY and Fpa (0.32). If the advice is followed, it is expected that the stock will grow until 2025 due to strong 2020 and 2021 year-classes.
Western Horse Mackerel:
ICES recommends, according to the MSY and precautionary approach, zero catches for 2024, the same as the advice for 2023. The stock is below Blim and is not expected to recover by 2025, even with zero catches. This stock of horse mackerel is the most important in Norwegian waters.
Horse Mackerel in the North Sea and Skagerrak:
ICES recommends, according to an MSY approach, a total catch of up to 9,730 tons for each of the years 2024 and 2025, up 8% from the previous advice. The majority of this stock is caught in the southern North Sea.”