The ICES has provided its quota advice on saith, coastal cod and redfish for 2023

The ICES has provided its Norwegian quota advice on saithe, coastal cod and redfish in the Barents Sea for 2023

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has provided advice for Norwegian stocks in the Barents Sea for 2023.

ICES has suspended Russia and will not advise on the common stocks in the Barents Sea. The Institute of Marine Research will provide advice on northeastern Arctic cod and haddock at the end of August.

Northeast Arctic saithe:

The council is given according to the management plan and ICES recommends a quota of up to 226 794 tonnes, up 15% from the agreed quota for 2022. The quota council is limited by the stability clause of a maximum of 15% change and would be up 19% without it. The stock is in good condition and the harvest is sustainable, the fishing pressure has been below FMGT (0.32) since 2013. The estimate for the spawning stock in 2022 is higher than expected due to a good cruise result in 2021, this explains the increase in the quota council. The spawning stock is estimated to be at a peak and is expected to fall slightly in the coming years.


Coastal cod north of 67N:

ICES has carried out an evaluation of the reference point and reconstruction plan/management plan for this stock. The evaluation team concluded that there is little evidence to support the high value for Blim (critical level for spawning stock) estimated in 2021. The evaluation shows that the data do not provide a stable estimate for Blim that can be used in ICES ‘standard harvesting rule and it is not advisable to use ICES standard harvesting rule. An alternative and more careful harvesting rule was therefore proposed with a relatively low fishing pressure of F0.1 = 0.176. This harvesting rule has been shown to be sustainable and as long as the spawning stock is above the lowest observed spawning stock for the period 2003-2021. Norway has recognized this harvesting rule.

The advice is given in accordance with the Norwegian management plan and ICES recommends a quota of up to 29,347 tonnes for 2023, including recreational fishing, up 142% from the revised advice for 2022. The spawning stock is above the lower limit, but the fishing pressure is too high.


Coastal cod 62 – 67N:

According to the precautionary approach, ICES recommends a total catch of up to 9136 tonnes for 2023, up 20% from the Council for 2022. ICES assumes that 4716 tonnes of the total will be fished by recreational fishermen. ICES assesses the development of the stock based on a catch per unit effort (CPUE) index from the reference fleet and the quality of this index is low. ICES considers the spawning stock to be above the action point (Itrigger) and the fishing pressure to be justifiable.

ICES uses a trend-based methodology that compares the average of the index for the last two years with the average for the previous three years. This rate was positive for the second year in a row. New this year is that ICES includes other life history parameters to adjust the quota council, but this had no effect on the council which was limited by a rule of a maximum of 20% positive change.


Common redfish:

According to the precautionary approach, ICES recommends zero catches for both 2023 and 2024. The spawning stock is below the critical level Blim and the fishing pressure is too high. The by-catch has increased as a result of increased fishing for proboscis, it is uncertain whether the catches of common redfish are real or whether it is due to incorrect reporting of species.

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The advice north of 67 degrees has been associated with some tension, because the stock has been the subject of extensive evaluations in the ICES system. The outcome of these revisions may, among other things, have consequences for the waived MSC certificates within 12nm; a case Fiskarlaget has followed closely.

For the stock north of 67 degrees, the quota council from ICES is now 29,347 tonnes, which represents a large increase from last year’s quota council of 7,865 tonnes.

Kåre Heggebø is very pleased with the thorough work that the researchers at the Institute of Marine Research and ICES have put into the coastal cod stock.

“This is an important issue for coastal fishermen, and our constructive advice and input has also been listened to. Now we must not forget the coastal cod stock between 62-67 degrees. For this stock, the council is 9,136 tonnes for 2023. This has a smaller data base, but we must also be sure that maps and terrain fit together,” says Heggebø.

The new advice will allow further work with ongoing recertification processes for cod and haddock within 12nm, and the certification company DNV has already been instructed to prepare assessments of the new information.

What also remains to be seen is which regulations the new council will be followed up with. Although the new council represents a drastic increase from previous years, it is still at a lower level than what has been estimated Norwegian landings of coastal cod north of 67 degrees in recent years.

In the new council, the lower target in the management plan, so-called SSBlowerbound, is set at 67,743 tonnes. This appears to be a far more realistic reference point than last year’s Blim of 115,782 tonnes, and also agrees to a greater extent with the Fishermen’s Association’s so-called “area report” from 2021. The Fishermen’s Association will still prioritize following up this matter closely.

How to set quota advice

The Institute of Marine Research collaborates with similar institutes in other countries on monitoring a number of fish stocks. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has a number of working groups in which Norwegian marine scientists participate. There, they carry out the stock calculations that form the basis for the quota advice, and the advice is quality assured by ICES.

The quotas for the vast majority of stocks are set in the annual fisheries negotiations between Norway and other parties (EU, Russia, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland).

The Institute of Marine Research (HI) also provides its own advice for a number of stocks that Norway manages alone (such as king crab and snow crab). The councils go directly from HI to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which sets quotas for these stocks.

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ICES Quota Advice for Norwegian fishing in the Barents Sea for 2023

by editor time to read: 8 min