On Tuesday, the Norwegian-Russian research group for fish stocks in the Barents Sea will present its recommendations for the 2023 quotas for Northeast Arctic cod (skrei), Northeast Arctic haddock and deep-sea redfish.
“The cod population is falling, but we believe it will stabilise if our recommendations are followed”, says Bjarte Bogstad.
At the Institute of Marine Research, he has responsibility for the Northeast Arctic cod stock, and he sits on the Norwegian-Russian research group making the recommendations this year.
(Read why this is not being done through the International Council for the Seas (ICES) this year: – Quota recommendations virtually unaffected)
The researchers estimate that the spawning stock of cod is now around 800,000 tonnes, the lowest since 2008. The years in between have been good for cod, with the spawning stock reaching a record 2.3 million tonnes in 2013.
According to the scientists, no more than 566,784 tonnes should be caught in 2023. That is 20 percent less than in 2022. Last year the quota was also 20 percent lower than the previous year.
“The reduction in the recommended quota is limited by a management rule that prevents the quota from being cut by more than 20 percent”, explains Bogstad.
The "max 20 percent rule" is considered a sustainable compromise between stability for fishers and long term yield.
A quota of 566,784 tonnes would be the lowest it has been since 2009.
The size of the stock has fallen every year since 2013, and the researchers most recently warned that it would continue to fall in last year’s quota advice.
"We expect the stock to continue the decline also into the next quota advise, before it levels out," says Bogstad.
“The cod population in the Barents Sea remains large and important, but the boom is over”, he continues.
The researchers recommend a quota of up to 170,067 tonnes for Northeast Arctic haddock, which is five percent lower than the quota for 2022.
In the case of deep-sea redfish, they believe it is safe to catch up to 66,779 tonnes in 2023 and 70,164 tonnes in 2024.
That recommendation is roughly unchanged from 2021-22.
Norwegian and Russian authorities will, as usual, set the final quotas through the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission.