Last updated on 2 July 2014
Icelandic cod is assumed to be a single stock unit, but a degree of exchange of larvae among Icelandic and Greenlandic waters appears likely and has been shown to occur among adult cod. An estimate of immigration of the 2003 year-class from Greenland is taken into account in the assessment (ICES, 2012a; 2015a,b).
The analytical assessment used is a forward-based statistical catch-at-age model, implemented in the AD model builder (refer to as ADCAM). The input in the analytical assessment for 2015 was catch at age 1955—2014 and spring ground-fish survey indices at age from 1985-2015 and fall survey groundfish survey indices at age from 1996—2014. This framework has been the basis for the advice since 2002. Discards are negligible (around 1% of landings, estimated from high grading occurrences) and were not included in the assessment.
The assessment is considered consistent (ICES, 2015a). There is some uncertainty on the assessment, as using different assumptions gives significantly different a reference biomass estimates (stock biomass of 4 year and older cod, used in the harvest control rule for estimating the TAC), ranging from 1100 to 1370 thousand tones for 2015. However, the framework used last year showed similar diagnostics as that observed last years, therefore the North-Western Working Group (NWWG) of the ICES considered premature to base the advice this year on an alternative model or assumption. The ADCAM model (tuned with the spring and the fall surveys) was used as the final point estimator, resulting in a reference biomass of 1302 thousand tones in 2015 and the fishing mortality 0.28 in 2014 (ICES, 2015b).
Last updated on 9 December 2014
In 2010, ICES started a transition to a Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) approach for scientific advice (ICES, 2010c). In this transition period, ICES scientific advice will provide catch options according to the ICES MSY approach, the precautionary approach (PA), and the managing plan.
The current advice is based on the 2009 management plan that is in conformity with both the ICES MSY framework. Considering that the Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB) is above MSY Btrigger and applying a Harvest Control Rule (HCR) of 0.2, landings are advised at 239,000 tons in the fishing year 2015/2016. This is expected to increase the SSB by 6%, corresponding to 589,000 tons in 2016 (ICES, 2015a). Projections suggest that if the HCR is followed the stock should remain the current stock condition (MRI, 2015a).
ICES and the Marine Research Institute emphasizes the necessity of subtracting all expected catches from other sources (catches of the foreign fleets, transfer between species and seasons and special quotas) prior to allocating quota to the Icelandic fleet that is under the ITQ control to avoid TAC overshoot (IRM, 2015a; ICES, 2015b). Expected catches by foreign fleets and other catches not subject to TAC are not quantified but were estimated to be 12,000 tons (5% of landings) in 2013/2014 (ICES, 2014b).
Last updated on 09 Dec 2014
The Government of Iceland has adopted a management plan for the Icelandic cod stock for the next five fishing years, starting by the 2009/2010 fishing season. Although the 5 year period of the management plan has ended, the reference points within the plan are still used for providing scientific advice and the harvest control rule established in the plan is considered for setting the TAC (ICES, 2015a; IRF, 2015).
Blim is set at 125,000 tons and MSY Btrigger at 220,000 tons (MRI, 2012; ICES, 2015a,b). The harvest rate target in the management control rule (landings being equal to 20% of the reference biomass, B4+) and the target SSB of 220,000 tons, have been evaluated by ICES and are in conformity with the ICES MSY approach (ICES, 2013a,b). Precautionary reference points have never been set for this stock (ICES, 2015b).
Last updated on 2 July 2014
The reference biomass (B4+,2015) is estimated to be 1,302,000 tons, the highest observed since the late 1970’s. The spawning stock (SSB2015) is estimated to be 547,000 tons and is higher than has been observed over the last five decades and is above Blim and MSY Btrigger. Fishing mortality, being 0.28 in 2014, has declined significantly in recent years and is the lowest observed in last 6 decades (ICES, 2015b).
Since recruitment during the last decade has been below average, it is clear that the increase in stock is due to decreased effort (IRM, 2015). There is some uncertainty with respect to the extent of the increase in the biomass and reduction in fishing mortality in recent years due to conflicts of model assumptions (ICES, 2015b).
Low values of mean weight at age and catches, observed during 2006/2008, have been increasing in recent years and are now around the long term mean (ICES, 2015b). The 2008, 2009 and 2011 year classes are estimated to be at or above the long term average, but 2010, 2012 and 2013 year classes are below average (ICES, 2014a). Initial sampling indicates that the 2014 cohort will likely be above average (IRM, 2015a).
Landings are at around 225,000 tons; the proportion taken by trawls and gillnets have been decreasing and by longliners tripled in the last 20 years, sharing respectively around 44%, 9% and 36% in 2014 (ICES, 2015a).
Last updated on 02 Jul 2014
The landings of Icelandic cod declined more or less continuously from almost 545,000 tons in 1955 to around 124,000 tons in 1993. The trend in landings in recent years is largely a reflection of the set TAC that is set for the fishing year (ICES, 2015b). TAC restrictions have resulted in 60% reduction in F and 50% in the Harvest Rate, since 2000. Both have declined significantly in recent years and are presently at the lowest observed levels of the past six decades (ICES, 2015b).
Year classes have been stable but around lower levels observed in 1955-1985. Increase in stock is due to decreased effort, since recruitment during the last decade has been below average. Projections until 2019 indicate that if the harvest control rule is followed the stock should remain in its current condition. There is still considerable uncertainty on biomass estimates, and the stock and landings might decrease slightly (IRM, 2015a).