Summary

IDENTIFICATION

Last updated on 8 September 2016

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Gadus morhua

SPECIES NAME(S)

Atlantic cod

COMMON NAMES

Barents Sea cod, Northeast Arctic cod, Norwegian-Russian cod

Genetic studies support the distinctness of populations in the Barents Sea from other populations in the Northeastern Atlantic (Bradbury et al., 2013). There is some distribution overlap with Norwegian coastal cod but the stocks are assessed separately since some stock differentiation has been mentioned (Neuenfeldt et al., 2013).


ANALYSIS

Strengths
  • The stock assessment process incorporates many best practices features.
  • Scientific advice is consistent with the management plan.
  • Stock biomass remains in a good condition and recruitment (2010-2015) is above or around the long-term average.
  • Catches have been below the set TAC. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is close to zero.
  • Spatial, temporal and closures for the protection of juveniles, and also control measures are in place.
  • Some technical regulations are harmonized within Russian and Norwegian EEZ waters.
  • The project MAREANO and other annual trawl ecosystem surveys have been providing a deeper knowledge of the Barents Sea seabed ecosystem. Sensitive species and habitats’ composition have been determined spatially. Sensitive areas are identified.
Weaknesses
  • Several issues contribute to uncertainties in the assessment – survey coverage and precision.
  • Fishing mortality has been increasing and is currently slightly below the target. The spawning stock is 23% lower than in 2015 and is presenting a decreasing trend since 2013 (maximum estimate) but is still above the target.
  • The agreed catch limit is 10% above the scientific recommendation.
  • Trawls are known to impact the hard bottom ecosystem and the effect on the soft bottom is not well studied.
  • There is bycatch of coastal cod and golden redfish, which are depleted. Bycatch of golden redfish is of particular concern; it is estimated to contribute to a significant share of the total golden redfish catches and considered by ICES to be far above any sustainable catch level. 
  • High bycatch level of wolffish is occurring in the longline fishery.

SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

8.1

Managers Compliance:

8.3

Fishers Compliance:

10

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

10

Future Health:

8.1


RECOMMENDATIONS

RETAILERS & SUPPLY CHAIN
  • Implement an at-sea monitoring programme to improve data on protected, endangered, and threatened species interactions.
  • Make further efforts (e.g. via additional technical conservation measures) to minimize bycatch of coastal cod and golden redfish. 
  • Participate in the ongoing efforts to investigate impacts of bottom trawls on the soft-bottom habitat of the Barents Sea.

FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

  • Barents Sea cod, haddock and saithe:

    MSC Recertified

  • FIUN Barents & Norwegian Seas cod and haddock:

    MSC Certified

  • Russian Federation Barents sea cod and haddock:

    MSC Certified

  • Arkhangelsk Trawl fleet Norwegian and Barents Seas cod & haddock fishery:

    MSC Certified

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

ASSESSMENT UNIT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Barents Sea Norway/Russia Faroe Islands Bottom trawls
Twin bottom otter trawls
France Single boat bottom otter trawls
Germany Single boat bottom otter trawls
Greenland Bottom trawls
Norway Bottom trawls
Danish seines
Gillnets and entangling nets
Hooks and lines
Longlines
Poland Bottom trawls
Russian Federation Bottom trawls
Longlines
Spain Bottom trawls
Single boat bottom otter trawls
United Kingdom Single boat bottom otter trawls

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 16 February 2017

Strengths
  • The stock assessment process incorporates many best practices features.
  • Scientific advice is consistent with the management plan.
  • Stock biomass remains in a good condition and recruitment (2010-2015) is above or around the long-term average.
  • Catches have been below the set TAC. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is close to zero.
  • Spatial, temporal and closures for the protection of juveniles, and also control measures are in place.
  • Some technical regulations are harmonized within Russian and Norwegian EEZ waters.
  • The project MAREANO and other annual trawl ecosystem surveys have been providing a deeper knowledge of the Barents Sea seabed ecosystem. Sensitive species and habitats’ composition have been determined spatially. Sensitive areas are identified.
Weaknesses
  • Several issues contribute to uncertainties in the assessment – survey coverage and precision.
  • Fishing mortality has been increasing and is currently slightly below the target. The spawning stock is 23% lower than in 2015 and is presenting a decreasing trend since 2013 (maximum estimate) but is still above the target.
  • The agreed catch limit is 10% above the scientific recommendation.
  • Trawls are known to impact the hard bottom ecosystem and the effect on the soft bottom is not well studied.
  • There is bycatch of coastal cod and golden redfish, which are depleted. Bycatch of golden redfish is of particular concern; it is estimated to contribute to a significant share of the total golden redfish catches and considered by ICES to be far above any sustainable catch level. 
  • High bycatch level of wolffish is occurring in the longline fishery.
RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 10 July 2017

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
  • Implement an at-sea monitoring programme to improve data on protected, endangered, and threatened species interactions.
  • Make further efforts (e.g. via additional technical conservation measures) to minimize bycatch of coastal cod and golden redfish. 
  • Participate in the ongoing efforts to investigate impacts of bottom trawls on the soft-bottom habitat of the Barents Sea.

1.STOCK STATUS

Stock Assessment

Last updated on 1 February 2017

The annual stock assessment uses state-of-the-art techniques, is carried out by a working group of leading scientists and provides concise advice to managers; all data and methods, the process and results are transparent and available publicly on-line, and have been peer reviewed. An age-based analytical assessment (XSA) is performed using based on commercial landings data (e.g., catch and length-at-age), Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) series and several survey indices (e.g. Joint acoustic, bottom trawl, ecosystem) as well as natural mortalities from stomach sampling. Assessment includes data from 1946 to present. Estimates of cod cannibalism, that now cover more years (period before 1984 is now included), are included in the natural mortality, changing historical recruitment and total stock biomass estimates. Discards are not quantified but have been considered negligible (below 5%). Bycatch is included. Last benchmark was undertaken in 2015 but an inter-benchmark is planned for 2017 to review the assessment process (ICES, 2016a).

The assessment’s quality can be compromised. An expansion of the cod distribution has been recently denoted as well as higher ice coverage, resulting in incomplete surveys. Norwegian and Russian sampling has been also less precise and decreased, respectively (ICES, 2016a). Imprecise input data, like the catch-at-age matrix is also mentioned (ICES, 2015b).

Scientific Advice

Last updated on 1 February 2017

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 cod surveys and cooperation in data collection and research programmes (Lockwood et al., 2010). ICES’ advice for 2017 is as follows (ICES, 2016a):

Management plan (MP): According to the agreed MP, catches in 2017 should not exceed 805,000 tonnes. Under this catch scenario, Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB) is expected to remain above the biologic precautionary approach reference point (BPA) in 2018.

ICES evaluated the management plan and its later 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, the JRNFC requested the ICES to evaluate six alternative harvest control rules (one of which is the existing harvest control rule) and ICES considered all proposals as precautionary (ICES, 2016c) .

MSY approach: The MSY approach implies fishing at FMSY, corresponding to catches in 2017 of no more than 795,000 tonnes. Under this scenario, SSB is expected to remain well above (MSY Btrigger) in 2018.

Other recommendations: Bycatch of coastal cod and golden redfish Sebastes norvegicus should be kept as low as possible given the Fishing effort (F) reduction foreseen in the coastal cod rebuilding plan and the low stock condition of golden redfish. Increase Russian sampling and redistribute effort of port sampling in Norway is also advised (ICES, 2016a).  

Reference Points

Last updated on 1 February 2017

ICES has defined a lower limit reference point, Blim, of 220,000 tonnes, and a precautionary SSB level (Bpa) of 460,000 tonnes, at which SSB has a >90% chance of being above Blim. The fishing mortality corresponding to an equilibrium stock at Blim is Flim=0.74, and the precautionary fishing mortality, Fpa, below which the stock has a >90% chance of remaining below Flim, is 0.4. MSY reference points were for the first time defined in 2012, being FMSY at 0.4 (=Fpa) and MSY Btrigger at 460,000 tonnes (=Bpa) (ICES, 2016a).

The adopted reference points in the agreed management plan (MP) are a target Spawning Stock Biomass (SSBMP) at 460,000 tonnes (=Bpa and MSY Btrigger), and a target fishing mortality (FMP) at 0.4 (=Fpa and FMSY). According to the agreed harvest control rule, if SSB drops to below Bpa fishing mortality is to be linearly reduced from Fpa at SSB=Bpa to zero at SSB=0 (ICES, 2016a).  

Current Status

Last updated on 1 February 2017

The stock remains in its full reproductive capacity with SSB above Bpa = MSY Btrigger since 2002; in 2016 was estimated at 1,070 tonnes, 23% lower than in 2015 and 43% than in 2014. Fishing mortality increased in recent years (2013-2015) and estimated at 0.39 in 2015, slightly below MSY levels. Recruitment in recent years has been above or around the long-term average. Provisional catches in 2015 were estimated at 864 thousand tonnes (ICES, 2016a).

Trends

Last updated on 1 February 2017

High fishing mortality and low spawning stock biomass levels characterized this fishery for most of its history, with e.g., F reaching a high of 0.95 and SSB a low of 121,200 tonnes in the late 1980s. But significant improvements have made since the early-2000s: SSB has been rapidly increasing since 2000, being above Bpa since 2002, and at the highest levels of the historical series since 2010, however denoting a decreasing trend in last years (50% reduction since 2013 maximum estimate). An inverse trend has been observed in the fishing mortality, which rapidly decreased from peak levels in the late-90s and it has been below or around Fpa since 2007, a result of the HCR and negligible IUU fishing in recent years. Reported catches ranged between 400,000 and 640,000 tonnes from 1999-2010 (i.e., below the fishery’s historical average of 650,000 tonnes), but have been increasing since 2008 (ICES, 2015a,b).  

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

Managers' Decisions

Last updated on 1 February 2017

The management agreement for the Northeast Arctic Cod of the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fishery Commission (JNRFC), revised in 2009, regularly evaluated, is in accordance with the Precautionary Approach (ICES, 2011b); includes an harvest control rule (HCR) aimed at maintaining the target fishing mortality at Fpa= 0.40 unless SSB falls below Bpa, in which case F should be linearly reduced to F=0 at SSB=0. Total Allowable Catch (TAC) estimates is for a 3-year period and based on Fpa, however changes should not be more than ± 10% and must correspond to a F of 0.30 (ICES, 2013b).

Fisheries authorities in Norway and Russia formally stipulate the TACs through the JNRFC and based on ICES scientific recommendations. The total quota for cod is then divided between Norway, Russia and other countries (JNRFC, undated). Thus the following quotas apply to the 2017 TAC defined at 890,000 tonnes: Norway  400 thousand tonnes (21,000 tonnes to coastal cod and 7,000 tonnes for research purposes), and the remaining for Russia and other countries (UndercurrentNews, 2016; FiskerForum, 2016). In the last years (2016 and 2017) , the TAC  has been set above  the scientific recommendation.

Technical regulations are since 2011 harmonized within Norwegian and Russian Economic Exclusive Zones (EEZ): minimum landing size of 44 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 and in 2009, a list identifies all 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 for trawl fisheries since 1997, and the minimum mesh size for bottom trawls is 130 mm for the entire Barents Sea (ICES, 2014a,b).

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 1 February 2017

The management plan (together with the haddock fishery within the same area) was implemented in 2004 and amended in 2009 by JRNC; in 2010 it was decided that the plan would be kept until 2015. The management strategies should take into account conditions for high long-term yield for the stocks, achievement of year-to-year stability of TACs and full utilization of all available information on stock development. ICES evaluated the plan and concluded that it is consistent with the PA and “not in contradiction to the MSY approach” (ICES, 2015a). In 2015, JRNFC decided that alternative harvest control rules (HCRs) should be evaluated by ICES (ICES, 2016a).

Compliance

Last updated on 1 February 2017

llegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing used to be a problem in the past. However, it is considered to have decreased to zero since 2009 (ICES, 2013a,b) as a result of greater cooperation between Russian and Norwegian authorities, as well as EU requirements for catch certification (MFCA, 2010).

Monitoring and enforcement of regulations is conducted through Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) satellite tracking for some fleets, radio checks, inspections at sea and catches control points while entering and leaving the EEZ (MEP, 2012; ICES, 2014a). A detailed logbook on board is mandatory for most vessels and the majority of the fleet report to the authorities on a daily basis (ICES, 2016b).

Landings have been following the set TAC from 2012 onwards and total catches are “very close to officially reported landings” according to Norwegian-Russian analysis group (ICES, 2015b). In 2015, the provisional catches estimates were 3% below the set TAC. Discarding is forbidden in Russia and Norway; data on discarding is scarce but are known to occur. However, the overall discards are considered as negligible (ICES, 2015a; ICES, 2016a). There are some unreported caches but a low level in comparison with historical values (ICES, 2016b). Observer coverage is still low, but no compliance issues have been reported (Pfiffer and Sieben, 2014).

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

ETP Species

Last updated on 7 June 2017

The 2010 Norwegian red list classifies ten species of marine mammals and seventeen of seabirds in the region as Regionally Extinct, Critically Endangered, Endangered or Near Threatened (NBIC, 2010). Among the most abundant marine mammals the fin whale Balaenoptera physalus (Reilly et al., 2013), Sei whale Balaenoptera borealis (Reilly et al., 2008a) and blue whale Balaenoptera musculus (Reilly et al., 2008b) are listed as “Endangered” by the IUCN redlist. Capture of harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena (least concern in IUCN red list; Hammond et al., 2008) is a current concern. Are estimated to be captured in this fishery but the impact is not yet determined due to unreliable data (Nichols et al., 2015).

There are several species of seabirds included in the Norwegian and Russian redlists. Many species are currently in decline but it is not clear the reason for that. However, fisheries have a low impact on bird mortality and when those impacts occur are mainly due  gillnet fisheries (Hønneland et al., 2016)

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; Fowler, 2005), porbeagle Lamna nasus (vulnerable in IUCN red list; Stevens et al., 2006) and picked dogfish (spurdog) Squalus acanthias (vulnerable; Fordham et al., 2006) 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 taken harp seals but the impact of this gear is considered low risk for bycatches of marine mammals (Guadian 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 (Nichols et al., 2015).

Sebastes norvegicus is currently classified as a threatened (EN) species on the Norwegian Redlist according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria (ICES, 2016b) (more detailed information in Other target and bycatch species section).

Norway/Russia
Russian Federation
Bottom trawls

Last updated on 15 February 2017

There are programmes in place to reduce and monitor bycatch of marine mammals. An MSC logbook is used onboard to report interactions with PET species (Hønneland et al., 2014).

Other Target and Bycatch Species

Last updated on 22 February 2017

Both Norwegian and Russian jurisdictions require catches of species from a set list to be landed.

Bycatch data oscillates with season and fishing area. Non-target species are identified and quantified. 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, 2014a).

Besides cod and haddock, the main retained species by volume (1%) was saithe. Other retained species include redfish (Beaked redfish Sebastes mentella  and  Golden redfish Sebastes norvegicus), species of wolffish (Anarhichas spp), American plaice (Hippoglossoides platessoides), Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides), and small quantities of ling (Gaudian et al., 2016).

Cod fishery is considered a relatively “clean” fishery with low levels of bycatch (Southall et al. 2010). However, bycatch of coastal cod, golden redfish and wolffish species is a concern. Besides, high bycatch level of wolffish (about 32% of the catch) is occurring in the longline fishery (Hønneland and Revenga, 2016).

Bycatch of golden redfish, which is depleted, is of particular concern.  The current catches of golden redfish as bycatch in fisheries targeting Northeast Atlantic (NEA) cod constitutes a considerable part of the total golden redfish catch, and is considered above any sustainable catch level (ICES, 2016a). Although the level of removals is considered low individually by each fleet ( e.g Guadian et al., 2016; Honneland et al., 2016), the cumulative golden redfish catches is preventing rebuilding.

The total catches of the golden redfish decreased about 70% since 2003, with a catch reduction of about 87% in trawl, 73% in gillnet and 25% in longline fisheries. Gillnets represent more than 50% of the total golden redfish annual catches and longline has been increasing their proportion in the last years (about 35% in 2015). In opposition, trawl presents a decreasing trend along the years (2003-2015), representing about 12% of the golden redfish catches in 2015, the smallest value estimated for this period (ICES, 2016b).

However,  the golden redfish total catch in 2015 was 3,633 tonnes (ICES, 2016b,d), well above the anterior sustainable level (1,500 tonnes). Currently, ICES is not able to identify any reference points or catch levels for this species (ICES, 2016b). Considering the poor state of the golden redfish stock,  ICES advice a catch equal to zero for the 3 next years (2017 to 2019) to remain mature fish and to protect any recruitment (ICES, 2016d). Additionally, ICES recommends a bycatch reduction to minimize all sources of fishing mortality (ICES, 2016d). Directed trawl fishery is not allowed and a bycatch limit of 20% (in weight) of the total catch is allowed for redfish (15% limit until 2015) (ICES, 2016b). For the other gears, there is a moratorium in place and since 2012, the moratorium was extended to 20 December-31 July and September, except for trawl and handline vessels less than 11 meters (ICES, 2015c). Recently, for vessels less than 21 meters it was implemented a bycatch limit of 30% between 1 August to 31 December (ICES, 2016b). ICES considers that current bycatch restrictions are not enough to allow the recovery of this golden redfish stock and other measures should be implemented (e.g. closures, moratorium, and restrictions in gears (ICES, 2016b).

Norway/Russia
Russian Federation

Last updated on 22 February 2017

The Russian certified fisheries have conditions open regarding the retained species  (wolfish species and Golden redfish)  (Guadian et al., 2016; Hønneland and Revenga, 2016;).

The second surveillance report of the FIUN Barents & Norwegian Seas cod and haddock certification indicated that no additional measures are needed to reduce the golden redfish bycatch but recording should be maintained. The surveillance team considers that the aggregated catch of Golden redfish by the Russian fleet was 770 tonnes for trawlers and longliners (below the previous 1,500 tonnes considered a precautionary catch) (Hønneland and Revenga, 2016).

Bottom trawls

Last updated on 29 July 2014

By-catch of macrobenthos is likely and this is not included in the list that regulates discarding so can be returned to the sea. Observer programme by PINRO and MSC procedures during certification will contribute for the determination of discard levels and the consequent development of the management strategy considering the Norwegian and Russian discard bans (Southall et al., 2010). The main bycatch species that present more concerns are spotted wolffish and golden redfish. MSC condition 2 is closed for the other species (FCI, 2012).

There is the need for an effective management strategy of retained species, being Spotted wolffish Anarhichas minor (the reference species of the wolffish group) and Golden Redfish Sebastes marinus and Deepwater redfish S. mentella of special concern due to the biological status; Greenland halibut Reinhardtius hippoglossoides and elasmobranch species are also included. Suggested actions comprise technical and management measures. All non-target and non-commercial species have been registered by the client in logbooks and a Scientific Observers Scheme. Spotted wolffish represents 11% of total catches and the stock biomass have been increasing, thus the condition was closed for this species. But in spite of an average annual bycatch of 0.1 % within regulated limits (report of the Polar Research Institute of Marine Researches and Oceanography (PINRO), ICES recommends no direct or indirect fishing due to the weak biological condition (decrease of the spawning stock and poor recruitment) of Golden Redfish (FCI, 2013).

Research is ongoing re the use of semi-pelagic trawls to reduce capture of non-target species (Hønneland et al., 2011; FCI, 2012).

The most important retained species in this fishery are cod (69% of total catch), haddock (27%), and saithe (3%). In terms of bycatch, it is considered a ‘relatively clean’ fishery. Rays (Rajidae family) are the most important group in terms of bycatch volumes, but records are not detailed to the species level; however, Starry ray Amblyraja radiata (Least Concern in the region) is likely the most captured species (Hønneland et al., 2014).

Habitat

Last updated on 7 June 2017

The project MAREANO and other annual trawl ecosystem surveys (conducted by IMR-PINRO) have been providing a deeper knowledge of the Barents Sea seabed ecosystem. Sensitive species and habitats’ composition have been determined spatially. More than 3050 benthic species are identified. In the Norwegian area, coral reef sites of the edge of the continental shelf were recently 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. Regulations of bottom fishing activities are in place in the Norwegian EEZ and around Jan Mayen and the Fisheries Protection Zone around Svalbard. Fishing operations are as well forbidden in the surroundings of known coral reefs and gardens. 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). Move-on rules are in place for the protection of vulnerable benthic habitats in Norwegian waters requires that any evidence of impacts on corals or sponges (i.e. presence in the trawl) be reported to the Directorate of Fisheries (DoF), with a move-on rule of 2 nautical miles 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). Knowledge of coral reefs in the Russian sector is not that much detailed and is thought to be much more disperse. Coastal protected areas in Russia do not cover benthic habitats or species but fishing vessels are not allowed to operate within the 12nm coastal zone, bringing protection to this area. Coastal waters (<12 nm) from Varanger Fjord to 37º E are closed to bottom trawling and purse seining in order to specifically protect benthic habitats (Hønneland et al., 2014). Norway has in place measures to prevent significant adverse impacts on VMEs following the NEAFC recommendations (Guadian 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 historic foot print of the fishery, zones considered “clean” and presenting lower risk for the gears. The on-going work of the MAREANO project will help to advise on “unexploited” areas (Cappell et al., 2016; Kiseleva and Nichols, 2016).

In general, there is good understanding of the potential impacts of bottom trawling on the benthos and habitats (Guadian et al., 2016). 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, Danish seines and hook and lines are less impacting on the ecosystem but a potential impact assessment on the impacts of gillnets, longline and trawl on sensitive habitats is required by the MSC for certifications of the Norwegian parts of the fishery.

It is wider accepted that fishing activity has been effect in benthic habitat in the Barents Sea but there is no evidence that these changes have led to wider changes in 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).

Norway/Russia
Russian Federation

Last updated on 16 February 2017

Russian coastal waters (<12 nm) from Varanger Fjord to 37 degrees E are closed to bottom trawling and purse seining in order to specifically protect benthic habitats (Hønneland et al., 2014). Norwegian and Russian scientists are also studying the use of pelagic or semi-pelagic trawls in order to minimize adverse ecosystem effects (ICES, 2014b); however, monitoring of bycatch of small cetaceans must be undertaken if their use expands (Lockwood et al., 2010).

The Russian certified fisheries have conditions open regarding the collection and analyse of relevant information to evaluate and develop a strategy to mitigate the possible habitats impacts of the fishery (Guadian et al., 2016; Hønneland and Revenga, 2016).

Bottom trawls

Last updated on 16 February 2017

The MSC fishery  FIUN Barents & Norwegian Seas cod and haddock Fishery  has an open  condition  that aims to better understand and minimize the impact of the fishery on the seabed ecosystem, safeguarding habitat structure and function. Efforts are in place to gather additional information on the overlapping of fishing operations and sensitive habitats, recording and analysis of benthic sessile species bycatch; the potential use of semi-pelagic trawl is also in research to reduce the impact (Hønneland et al., 2011; FCI, 2012; FCI, 2013). The collection of data on benthic species interactions is behind target but this not compromises the progress of the condition (Hønneland and Revenga, 2016).

Mapping of the vulnerable habitats continues via the Joint Russian-Norwegian Ecosystem assessment and the Mareano project, skippers avoid benthic communities of sponges and cold-water coral reefs and the fishery was not considered to significantly impact vulnerable habitats (available information from MSC logbooks revealed no interactions with corals and few with sponges). However, MSC recommendation 1 encouraged further actions to decrease the likelihood of any significant impacts, namely: the potential use of less impacting fishing gears (semi-pelagic trawls); b) gather additional information on the overlapping of fishing operations and sensitive habitats; continue using navigation systems to avoid areas of sensitive habitats (Hønneland et al., 2014).

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 16 February 2017

Real-time closures are enforced along the Norwegian coast and in the Barents Sea when the proportion of juveniles of cod, haddock and saithe exceeds 15% by number. Surveillance determines when the percentage has fallen and determines the reopening of the closed areas. An initial study found that discarding of undersized cod and haddock had been reduced by the system (ICES, 2014a).

Thirty-six areas are proposed for protection under Norway’s marine conservation plan, and other areas where the environment and natural resources are considered valuable or vulnerable are part of a proposed Integrated Management Plan for the Barents Sea−Lofoten Area. These are selected 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. To date, 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). Eighty seven percent of the territorial waters around Svalbard are protected through under the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act (MoE, 2012). 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).

In Russian waters specifically, most area closures (permanent and temporary) are designated to protect spawning and nursery areas of certain species (e.g., red king crab). But the coastal waters (<12 nm) from Varanger Fjord to 37º E are closed to bottom trawling and purse seining in order to specifically protect benthic habitats, however. Although not part of the OSPAR Convention, a considerable part of the Russian EEZ within the Barents Sea is covered by the OSPAR Region 1 – Arctic waters (Hønneland et al., 2014).

FishSource Scores

Last updated on 7 June 2017

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2015 data.

This measures the F at low biomass as a percentage of the F management target.

The F at low biomass is 0.191 (from management plan). The F management target is 0.400 .

The underlying F at low biomass/F management target for this index is 47.8%.

As calculated for 2017 data.

This measures the Set TAC as a percentage of the Advised TAC.

The Set TAC is 890 ('000 t). The Advised TAC is 805 ('000 t) .

The underlying Set TAC/Advised TAC for this index is 111%.

As calculated for 2015 data.

This measures the Estimated catch as a percentage of the Set TAC.

The Estimated catch is 864 ('000 t). The Set TAC is 894 ('000 t) .

The underlying Estimated catch/Set TAC for this index is 96.7%.

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2016 data.

This measures the SSB as a percentage of the MSY Btrigger.

The SSB is 1070 ('000 t). The MSY Btrigger is 460 ('000 t) .

The underlying SSB/MSY Btrigger for this index is 233%.

As calculated for 2015 data.

This measures the F as a percentage of the F management target.

The F is 0.386 (age-averaged). The F management target is 0.400 .

The underlying F/F management target for this index is 96.4%.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE RISK

High Medium Low

This indicates the potential risk of human rights abuses within this fishery.

No data available for recruitment
Data notes

1) Fadvised at low biomass=0.2 is based on the Harvest Control Rule if the spawning stock falls below Bpa. MSY Btrigger = Bpa (ICES, 2016a).
2) Advised TAC for 2017 is based on the existent management plan for this fishery (ICES, 2016a).
3) The 2017 TAC is set by the Joint Russia-Norway Fisheries Commission and includes Russian, Norwegian and third countries quotas.
4) Landings for 2015 represent a provisional value (ICES, 2016a).

Download Source Data

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

SELECT MSC

NAME

Barents Sea cod, haddock and saithe

STATUS

MSC Recertified on 22 November 2010

SCORES

Principle Level Scores:

Principle Score
Principle 1 – Target Species – Atantic cod 94.4
Principle 1 – Target Species – Haddock 89.4
Principle 1 – Target Species – Saithe 88.8
Principle 2 - Ecosystem 85.8
Principle 3 – Management System 93.3

Certification Type: Gold

Sources

Credits
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