Last updated on 24 September 2018
Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
- Make urgent further efforts (e.g. via additional technical conservation measures) to reduce the bycatch of golden redfish and coastal cod.
- Implement an at-sea monitoring programme to improve data on protected, endangered, and threatened species interactions.
- Participate in the ongoing efforts to investigate impacts of bottom trawls on the soft-bottom habitat of the Barents Sea.
Last updated on 10 August 2018
Since the last benchmark conducted in 2015, the stock is assessed by ICES conducting an age-based analytical model (State-Space Assessment Model, SAM) that "uses landings in the model and in the forecast". Input data include commercial landings (international; age and length samples); four survey indices; annual maturity data from surveys and natural mortalities from cod predation. Bycatch data is included in the assessment. Discarding occurs, current levels are unknown what contributes to uncertainty in the assessment, but are considered to be negligible, <5%. The reliability of the assessment may be compromised by what is shown in the SSB retrospective pattern. The sampling coverage of commercial catches was reduced since 2010 but improved in 2016/2017 (ICES 2018). A benchmark is suggested to be conducted until 2020 (ICES 2018).
The fishable stock contained in last years a substantial proportion of older fish (age 7+), which is expected to generate some variability in historic SSB estimates (ICES 2016a) but in 2017 fishes caught were between ages 4-6 (ICES 2018).
Last updated on 10 August 2018
ICES’ ACOM (Advisory Committee) issues advice for this fishery. Norway’s Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and Russia’s Polar Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (PINRO) provide much of the basis for the scientific advice, through annual surveys and cooperation in data collection and research programmes (Lockwood et al., 2010). ICES’ advice for 2019 is predicated on the joint Norwegian-Russian management plan, limiting catches to 152,000 tonnes, which is coincident "with the 25% constraint in TAC from the management plan" given the lower abundance of older age groups and the requirement to decrease F to the FMSY target. Other assumptions of the advice consider that 2018 landings are at the set TAC (202,305 tonnes), that the 2017 set limit was not fully taken and the unused part was transferred to 2018. Besides, the reduced TAC is going to protect the incoming year classes because "there is a likelihood of higher catch of undersized fish in the next couple of years" (ICES 2018).
The current harvest control rule (HCR) defined under the management plan is based on the maximum sustainable yield fishing mortality, FMSY, and a 25% cap on year-on-year TAC changes as long as the stock is healthy. Under the advised 2019 catch scenario, the spawning stock is expected to increase 6.2% in 2020 comparing to 2019 (ICES 2018).
ICES evaluated the management plan and its latter amendment in 2010 – when the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission (JRNFC) decided to use the plan for more 5 years before a next evaluation – and found it to be consistent with the Precautionary Approach (PA) (ICES, 2015a,b). In 2016, JRNFC requested ICES to evaluate ten alternative HCR (one of which is the existing HCR) and all proposals are considered as precautionary (ICES 2016)(ICES 2016)(ICES 2018).
Other recommendations: Bycatch of coastal cod and golden redfish Sebastes norvegicus should be kept as low as possible (ICES 2018). Even if this suggestion is not presented in the haddock ICES advice (ICES 2018) it is mentioned here given both species are caught in the same Barents Sea fishery. Coastal cod's stock size has been well below the biomass rebuilding threshold set in the rebuilding plan and fishing pressure increased in the last three years (ICES 2018). On the other hand, the stock size of golden redfish has been decreasing and is currently at the historical minimum, below both biological reference points; fishing pressure is above the FMSY. The species is mainly bycaught (direct fishery is conditioned), representing Norway and Russia 87% of total removals in 2017 (of 5,340 tonnes). In 2017 bycatch is preliminary at 64% by trawls (increasing from last years), 18% by gillnets and 15% by longlines (ICES 2018)(ICES 2018).
Last updated on 10 August 2018
The partnership between Norway and Russia, under the JCNRFC, has improved all over the years, in terms of species analysed, expanding the scope of the assessments performed to understand the status of various species of the trophic chain (and not only commercial species as in the beginning) and of the ecosystem as a whole. The Ecosystem Approach is now a reality and "major fish stocks in the area are now at a high level". ICES plays an important role too, "in practice functioning as an international peer review body" and being an intermediary entity "between science and policy" as an advisory committee. Management decisions are much more informed, promoting the sustainable management and use of living marine resources (Hammer and Hoel 2012).
Last updated on 10 August 2018
ICES classifies the stock as at full reproductive capacity. The spawning stock biomass (SSB) was on a generally increasing trend between 2002 and 2015, peaking at around 802,000 tonnes, the historical maximum. Since then has been decreasing and is currently at around 250 thousand tonnes, above MSY Btrigger (at 80,000 tonnes) and the correspondent limit reference point (at 50,000 tonnes). Fishing mortality F4-7 has been decreasing, concomitant with the SSB increase, but recorded a slight uptick in last years, reaching 0.39 in 2018, being estimates now above FMSY = Ftarget = 0.35 but still below the precautionary reference point (=0.47). Year classes of 2004-2006 are among the strongest of the time series and are still dominating the spawning stock; but no strong year classes have yet followed these and a decreased, but still strong, stock size is expected in upcoming years. Discards are known to occur but cannot be quantified. However they are now assumed to be below 5% in recent years. Landings in 2017 have been estimated at 227,588 tons (ICES 2018).
Last updated on 10 August 2018
The NE Arctic haddock fishery is managed through a Joint Norwegian-Russian Fishery Commission (JNRFC) management plan (MP), agreed in 2004 and regularly evaluated. The MP includes a HCR aimed at maintaining the set TACs at a level corresponding to FMSY. Between-year variations in set TAC are limited to ±25%, unless SSB drops to values below Bpa (ICES 2016a). The JNRFC decided in 2015 that the HCR can be used in the upcoming 5 years (ICES 2018).
2014 and 2015 TACs were set above the scientific recommendations but the 2018 TAC at 202,305 tonnes (Government of Norway 2017) is in line with the scientific advice (ICES 2018), as for the third consecutive year. The Norwegian quota is at 99,302 tonnes including the portion for research purposes.
The JRNFC agreed that since 2015 quotas can be transferred among years (ICES, 2015b). Norway establishes quotas for trawls and others gears (ICES 2016b). Technical regulations are since 2011 harmonized within both Norwegian and Russian Economic Exclusive Zones (EEZ): minimum landing size of 40 cm, maximum of 15% of allowable catch of fish below the minimum size (combined for cod, haddock and saithe in the Norwegian EEZ and cod and haddock in the Russian EEZ). A discarding ban started in 1987 only for cod and haddock. In 2009 the discarding ban was extended to a number of additional species, dead or dying, that are obliged to be landed (with some exemptions) (Gullestad et al., 2015). Other regulations consist on mesh size limitations, a real-time closure system for juveniles (fishing is prohibited in areas where the proportion by number of undersized cod, haddock, and saithe combined has been observed by inspectors to exceed 15%) and other seasonal and spatial restrictions. Sorting grids are mandatory since 1997 and minimum mesh size is of 130 mm for the entire Barents Sea (ICES, 2014a).
Specific bycatch regulations are set in the Fisheries Protection Zone around Svalbard (FPZS), vessels are subject to 19% of haddock per trawl and 15% of haddock per trip (under the EU Directive Nr. 44/2102). Regarding bycatch species, both redfish species can be 20% in each trawl catch outside 12nm and upon landing. Trawling inside 12nm is limited to 10% redfish bycatch (ICES, 2016d). Other gears can catch up to 10% of redfish, or up to 30% from August 1st to December 31st for vessels <21m (ICES 2016d). Bycatch of 12% of Greenland halibut Reinhardtius hippoglossoides in individual catches as well as “an intermixture of up to 7% is permitted in the catch on board at the end of fishing operations and in the catch landed” (de Clers and Sieben, 2013).
Last updated on 1 February 2016
The MSC certification of Norway North East Arctic offshore haddock was first attributed in April 2010 and in October 2015 was re-certified. The fishery location is the NE Arctic Ocean within ICES sub-Areas I and II, and the fishing methods are: trawl, longline, gillnet, Danish Seine and hook and line gears (MSC, 2016). The inshore and offshore components of the fishery were combined in November 2011. Two conditions (2.1.1 and 2.3.1) are carried over from the previous assessment. Four new conditions (2.3.1, 2.3.2, 2.4.1 and 2.3.1) and two recommendations were raised (Nichols et al., 2015).
Last updated on 10 August 2018
ICES provided estimates of unreported landings from 2002, which when added to reported catches resulted in TACs being exceeded. From 2009, IUU fishing has been estimated as negligible and total estimated landings have been below the set TAC. Discarding is forbidden in Russia and Norway since 1987 (NG, undated) and is known to occur in the longline and trawl fisheries, usually associated with undersized haddocks (ICES 2016a) but quantitative data is not available and it is assumed to be below 5% in recent years (ICES 2018) (ICES 2018). 2017 landings were (preliminary) at 227,588 tonnes (ICES 2018) being the TAC set at 233,000 tonnes (Government of Norway 2017).
Monitoring and enforcement of regulations is conducted through a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), satellite tracking for some fleets, inspections at sea and catches control points while entering and leaving the EEZ (ICES, 2014a,b). It is believed that the IUU fishing decrease is a result of a greater cooperation between Russian and Norwegian authorities, as well as EU requirements for catch certification (MFCA, 2010). Port-state measures under the NEAFC contributed as well to solve the problem (Stokke 2010). An onboard detailed logbook is mandatory for most vessels and the majority of the fleet reports to the authorities on a daily basis (ICES, 2016b).
Last updated on 15 August 2018
Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) is mainly found in the South of the polar front, in coastal waters. Even if considered as Least concern under the IUCN red list (IUCN 2008), it is under the OSPAR List of threatened and/or declining species and habitats (OSPAR Commission 2009) and the CITES (Appendix II). It is particularly sensitive to the interaction with static gears due to their characteristics (Bjørge et al. 2010). Capture by two Norwegian coastal fisheries, namely by the gillnet cod (and monkfish) fishery, is a current concern but the impact is not yet fully determined due to unreliable data (Bjørge et al. 2013) (NAMMCO 2014) (Nichols et al. 2015)(ICES 2018).
Other concern regards the interaction of the fishery with golden redfish (Sebastes norvegicus) which is considered to be in "reduced reproductive capacity" and with fishing pressure above the Maximum Sustainable Yield. The species is mainly bycaught (direct fishery is conditioned), representing Norway and Russia 87% of total removals in 2017 (of 5,340 tonnes) when ICES recommended to keep bycatch as low as possible. In 2017 bycatch is preliminary at 64% by trawls (increasing from last years), 18% by gillnets and 15% by longlines (ICES 2018)(ICES 2018). S. norvegicus is currently classified as an Endangered species on the Norwegian Redlist according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria (ICES, 2016b). Even if bycaught in low proportions by each of the MSC certified fleets (Hønneland et al. 2014)(Nichols et al. 2015)(Knapman et al. 2018)(Kiseleva and Nichols 2018)(Gaudian et al. 2018) there is no reliable information of the cumulative impacts of all operating fisheries with this ETP species.
Seabirds and marine mammals have been recorded feeding both within trawl nets and apparently on fish escaping through meshes but only few bycatch of seabirds or marine mammals in otter trawls have been recorded widely. Basking shark Cetorhinus maximus (vulnerable in IUCN red list; (IUCN 2005)), porbeagle Lamna nasus (vulnerable in IUCN red list; (IUCN 2006)) and picked dogfish (spurdog) Squalus acanthias (vulnerable; (IUCN 2016)) can be caught but have to be landed or released if alive. There is also some bycatch of rays, which are generally released alive, but records are not detailed to the species level; Starry ray Amblyraja radiata (Least Concern in the region) is likely the most captured species (Hønneland et al. 2014). These and other skates/rays are occasionally caught, particularly by gillnets, but within national and international requirements (Nichols et al. 2015). Sometimes, trawl fisheries caught harp seals Pagophilus groenlandicus but the impact of this gear is considered with a low risk for bycatch of marine mammals (Gaudian et al. 2016).
There is a strategy in place to manage and minimize the impacts of the fishery in place, both by the managing countries and ICES. All commercial fish, seabird and marine mammal populations are monitored. Real-time appropriate conservation actions can be implemented if needed. There are besides several generic measures under the Russian–Norwegian Fisheries Convention and the Norwegian management plans for the Barents Sea and Norwegian Sea to manage retained species, supported both by IMR and PINRO monitoring. With the introduction of the electronic logbook it is now obligatory to record the presence or absence of marine mammals and seabirds in the catch. There are real-time closure rules if any species exceeds threshold levels in individual catches; and regulations to safeguard aggregations of both juveniles of most species and aggregations of depleted species such as redfish, Greenland and Atlantic halibut. Where such species are taken as bycatch, there are also stringent bycatch regulations in place to minimise the risk of cryptic targeting of the species. There are also haul limits for redfish and halibut in both Russian and Norwegian EEZs. Escape grids in front of the cod end and cod end mesh sizes will affect all species. Discarding of commercial fish species is prohibited; detailed records and regular (daily) reporting of all fishing activity and catches must be maintained, and compliance with technical measures checked (Nichols et al. 2015)(Kiseleva et al. 2017). There are current efforts in place to determine the interaction and develop specific measures to mitigate the impact of the fishery with harbour porpoise (Nichols et al. 2015) and the use of pingers is already being tested (Lassen and Chaudhury 2017).
Last updated on 1 March 2017
The lack of gear-specific information on the level of interactions with PET species triggered condition 2 (trawl, longline, gill net, Danish seine) for certification which is carried over from the previous certification (i.e., the recollection of relevant information to support the management of the impacts on PET species for each gear type) (Nichols et al., 2015). Norwegian legislation currently requires recording and reporting of all bycatch (including PET species). The interaction of the fishery with marine mammals should be quantified and assessed, and mitigation measures implemented when unacceptable levels are found. The status of harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena (least concern in IUCN red list; Hammond et al., 2008) is unknown, the interaction with gillnets is not yet quantified and extrapolated numbers (based on reference-fleet data) constitute a concern. Condition 3 (only gillnets) requires the determination of this interaction, to make sure that’s within limits of national and international requirements for protection. Moreover, condition 4 (only gillnets) demands the development of a strategy to minimize the gillnet-related mortality and the use of pingers, which efficacy is still to be determined, is proposed (Nichols et al., 2015). By the second surveillance report, those conditions were on target (Huntington and Chaudhury, 2017).
Last updated on 15 August 2018
Both Norwegian and Russian jurisdictions require catches of species from a set list to be landed, being discarding of commercial species forbidden. The fishery is generically considered as relatively “clean” with low levels of bycatch (Southall et al. 2010) apart the mentioned interaction with ETP species.
Bycatch data oscillates with season and fishing area. Non-target species are identified and quantified. Besides cod and haddock, the main retained species by volume is saithe (~1%). Other retained species include redfish (beaked redfish Sebastes mentella and golden redfish Sebastes norvegicus), three species of wolffish (Anarhichas spp.), American plaice (Hippoglossoides platessoides), Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides), and small quantities of ling. Uncertainties can be found in skates, rays and other species that may be discarded in low quantities (Hønneland et al. 2014)(Nichols et al. 2015)(Hønneland et al. 2016)(Gaudian et al. 2016)(Knapman et al. 2018).
Management measures such as a discard ban (both by Norwegian and Russian jurisdictions), area closures, minimum sizes, use of a larger mesh size, bycatch limits and sorting grids for trawls are in place to reduce impacts on retained bycatch species. Real-time closures along the Norwegian coast, in order to reduce the percentage of juvenile fish in catches, are implemented since 1984 (ICES 2018).
Last updated on 1 March 2017
Norway represents 69% of the golden redfish total catch (2,492 tonnes in 2015, provisional values), with a higher catch occurring in the ICES division IIa (ICES, 2016b).
The main non-target bycatch species are (2011-2013) saithe, tusk, ling, Greenland halibut, wolffish (3 species) and redfish (2 species) which must all be landed under the new Marine Resources Act. Of these redfish, tusk and non-PET elasmobranchs (skates and rays) may be of concern.
In terms of this certified fleet, uncertainties affecting retained species, i. e. impacts of catches of non-target species in relation to the distribution, ecology and abundance of the species and populations affected, including cod, were raised in condition 1 (all gear types) upon the MSC certification (carried over from the previous assessment). Gear specific catch recording of any species is already known. Impacts of the fishery on non-target species should be determined (namely of elasmobranchs) and an assessment and mitigation measures should be developed and implemented when significant impacts take place (Nichols et al., 2015). Condition 6 (all gears) regards the fishery effect on golden redfish Sebastes norvegicus. Direct fishing is forbidden and Norway implemented strict bycatch restrictions in both cod and haddock fisheries due to severe declining of the golden redfish stock. The interaction level should be within national and international requirements for protection of the species (Nichols et al., 2015).
Last updated on 15 August 2018
The Barents Sea and N-Norway regional scale of vulnerable marine habitats mapping are captured and available in cartography from sources such as the EU Red List of Marine Habitats, the project MAREANO, and the OSPAR 2010 database (Smith and Ríos 2018).
Sensitive species and habitats’ composition have been determined spatially. More than 3050 benthic species are identified. Qualitative effects on the total impact of trawling on the ecosystem have been studied to some degree and the most serious effects have been demonstrated for hard bottom habitats dominated by large sessile fauna, where erected organisms such as sponges, anthozoans and corals have been shown to decrease considerably in abundance in the pass of the ground gear (Freese et al, 1999; Althaus et al., 2009). Studies by Denisenko (2001, 2005, 2007) in the Barents Sea revealed that in areas of intensive bottom fisheries there was a degradation in the overall benthic habitats, with a shift towards more opportunistic, short-lived detritus eating organisms, and considerable decrease in the benthos biomass (Southall et al. 2010). According to Denisenko (2007) the gross biomass (75-80%) of the benthic community in the Barents Sea Sea is composed by 15-20 species (Southall et al. 2010). Investigations by Fossa et al., (2002) concluded that the damage to coral reefs in Norway amounts to between 30% and 50% of the total coral area. Most obvious impact of trawling on Lophelia pertusa is the mechanical damage caused by the gear itself. The impact of trawled gear will kill the coral polyps and break up the reef structure. Impacts of trawling on soft (e.g., sandy, clay-silt) bottoms have been less studied. According to available research in sandy bottoms of high seas fishing grounds, trawling disturbances have not produced large changes in the benthic assemblages, suggesting these habitats may be resistant to trawling due to natural disturbances and large natural variability (ICES, 2014b). However, more research is needed to fully evaluate possible impacts on this type of habitats. More recently, the impacts of bottom trawling on megabenthos were examined in the Barents sea and megabenthos density and diversity (namely the sponges Craniella zetlandica and Phakellia / Axinella, Flabellum macandrewi (Scleractinia), Ditrupa arietina (Polychaeta), Funiculina quadrangularis (Pennatulacea), and Spatangus purpureus (Echinoidea)) showed a negative relation with fishing intensity. However, some asteroids, lamp shells, and small sponges showed a positive trend (Buhl-Mortensen et al. 2016).
Longlines, gillnets and hooks and lines are not expected to cause irreversible harm to the seabed habitat, in temporal and spatial terms, given the characteristics of the gears. Therefore these fishing gears are not a concern (Nichols et al. 2015)(Knapman et al. 2018).
It is wider accepted that fishing activity has been having an effect in the Barents Sea benthic habitat but there is no evidence that these changes have led to wider changes in the ecosystem functioning, losses of productivity or ecosystem services (Hønneland et al. 2016). A comprehensive review of the biotic and abiotic drivers influencing early life history dynamics of the Barents Sea cod is presented in (Ottersen et al. 2014). Experimental studies also suggest possible ocean acidification effects on cod larval survival and recruitment (Stiasny et al. 2016).
Last updated on 15 August 2018
In the Norwegian area, coral reef sites of the edge of the continental shelf are designated as protected areas where fishing is prohibited. Deep-water sensitive habitats and species are protected by a fishing ban below 1000m within the Norwegian EEZ. Nineteen cold-water reef marine protected areas off the Norwegian coast have been created to date, in order to mitigate the impact of fisheries on the seabed habitats in the Barents Sea (MAREANO project; Huntington and Chaudhury, 2017). Thirty-six areas are proposed for protection under the Norway’s marine conservation plan, and other areas where the environment and natural resources considered valuable or vulnerable are part of the Integrated Management Plan for the Barents Sea−Lofoten Area. The selection of these areas is based on the importance of their biological production and biodiversity, in terms of endangered, vulnerable or important species or habitats. Key spawning and egg and larval drift areas for important fish stocks; breeding, moulting and wintering areas for important seabirds and critical benthic fauna habitats are included. The Norwegian Government has set a target for at least 10 % of coastal and marine areas to be protected by 2020 (Hønneland et al. 2014). Regulations of bottom fishing activities are in place in the Norwegian EEZ, around Jan Mayen and the Svalbard Fisheries Protection Zone (SFPZ) - 87% of the territorial waters around Svalbard are protected under the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act (MoE, 2012). Fishing operations are as well forbidden in the surroundings of known coral reefs and gardens. Move-on rules, in place for the protection of vulnerable benthic habitats, require that any evidence of impacts on corals or sponges (i.e. presence in the trawl) be reported to the Directorate of Fisheries (DoF), if there is evidence of an ‘encounter’ (defined as a coral catch of 60kg or greater or a sponge catch of 800 kg or greater) (MEP, 2012). Norway has in place measures to prevent significant adverse impacts on VMEs following the NEAFC recommendations (Gaudian et al. 2016).
There are some concerns on the possible future effects of the fishery beyond the current fishing areas. However, the fleets have been operating mostly inside the historical foot print of the fishery, zones considered “clean” and presenting lower risk for the gears. The ongoing work of the MAREANO project will help to advise on “unexploited” areas(Cappell et al. 2015)(Kiseleva and Nichols 2018). Both trawling and Danish seine fisheries require the assessment of the fishery interaction with Pennatulacea (sea pens) and to determine if the habitat structure and function is not compromised at serious or irreversible levels (Nichols et al. 2015). Measures such as "protected areas; encounter protocols and reporting; scientific observer scheme, MSC log book, joint PINRO/IMR ecosystem assessment, mapping and avoidance initiatives" constitute a partial strategy to manage the impacts of the fishery in the habitat. However these lack "the strength of a full strategy at this point in time, since existing protected areas in Norwegian waters only protect coral reefs (and only to the south of Lofoten), and there are no clear measures in place for the protection of other known areas of VME, including in particular sponge fields." Nevertheless "inspections, scientific observers, VMS tracks, MSC and standard log books (...) provide clear evidence that the strategy is being implemented" (Hønneland et al. 2016). Norwegian regulations (755/2011) have been amended (9 March 2016) along with the international (e.g. NEAFC) standards (Lassen and Chaudhury 2017). Gillnets and longlines are not expected to cause irreversible damage to the seabed habitat even if some contact can happen in fishing operations, when hauling (Nichols et al. 2015).
Last updated on 15 August 2018
There is a good understanding of the trophic chain, importance of key species and predator-prey relationships as well as "factors affecting the negative change in other ecosystem elements" in the Barents Sea ecoregion. "Several ecosystem modelling studies have been undertaken for the Barents Sea, which have explored for example the trophic relations between fish species, and links between capelin, cod, seabirds, and marine mammals (e.g. ecopath type studies, EcoCod, Gadget, Biofrost, MULTSPEC, STOCOBAR, ECOSIM) as well as broader ecosystem models such as NORWECOM.E2E and hydrodynamic models (e.g. (Pfeiffer et al. 2013); Hønneland et al., 2016). An integrated ecosystem survey is carried out yearly since 2004 by IMR/PINRO (Pfeiffer et al. 2013) seeking to "provide scientific-based advice in order to allow the authorities to make management decisions regarding the long-term utilization of the resources in the Barents Sea area" (Cappell et al. 2015). Both Arctic Fisheries (AFWG) and Integrated Assessments of the Barents Sea (WGIBAR) Working Groups provide annual assessments. "The length of time series for some of this information is impressive and amongst the highest in the world" (Hønneland et al. 2016).
"ECOSIM modelling of indirect effects suggests that there are no major trophic consequences (notably on cetaceans) of changing harvest rates of cod within the boundaries of established sustainable limits. There is no evidence of declines in marine mammal populations based on current monitoring information. Sufficient evidence is therefore available on the consequences of current levels of removal of target species to suggest no unacceptable impacts of the fishery on the Barents Sea ecosystem" (Pfeiffer et al. 2013)(Hønneland et al. 2014). Cod and capelin have close interactions and these are considered in the multispecies approach used for the cod stock assessment; interactions between stocks and fisheries are evaluated; GADGET modelling has also been used to understand the importance of all pieces in the whole trophic chain. All target species (cod, haddock and saithe) are biologically healthy, all resources are regularly assessed and under a management strategy; discarding is banned and seems to be negligible. Climate-change impacts appear to have more consequences in the Barents Sea ecosystem than the operating fisheries (Gascoigne et al. 2017). The required "assessments of threatened species and habitats and the development of an ecologically coherent network of marine protected areas, and assessment of human activities that may adversely affect ecosystems" under the "relevant conventions and agreements, such as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity" and OSPAR, along with the integrated management plan for the Barents Sea-Lofoten, are important tools to properly understand and manage the ecosystem in the region (Cappell et al. 2015).
"The integrated Barents Sea-Lofoten ecosystem-based management plan (adopted by the Norwegian government in 2006 and reviewed and updated in 2011) evaluates the status of the ecosystem, the main activities, the cumulative impact of these activities on different components of the ecosystem and sets goals for different parts of the ecosystem, as well as measures and monitoring indicators designed to achieve those goals." A gap analysis identifies, among others, new activities to be conducted in terms of determining the impacts of the fishery in the seabed habitat. The document is considered as a real-time resource to monitor the ecosystem and explicitly determines new or adapted measures to achive the goals. There is an overarching plan for the Norwegian Barents Sea and Lofoten Area but the Russian zone lacks this type of initiative; there are also limitations on the knowledge about the specific and cumulative impacts of the fishing gears on benthic communities functioning and structure. Other gaps are identified in regard to certain areas (Svalbard Fisheries Protection Zone) and to specific VMEs (sponges and coral gardens). A partial strategy is considered to exist, there are current efforts to extend some of the existing Norwegian measures, monitoring, planning and analysis to the Russian territory. Several other measures are in place: TAC for most of the retained species, gears' specifications to increase selectivity, move-on rules to protect juveniles as well as corals and sponges, spawning areas, marine protected areas (Hønneland et al. 2014)(Gaudian et al. 2016)(Gascoigne et al. 2017)(Knapman et al. 2018).