Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Cod - Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea, Spitzbergen and Bear Island
Marine Resource  Fact Sheet
ICES Advice 2012
Cod - Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea, Spitzbergen and Bear Island
Fact Sheet Citation  
Cod in Subareas I and II (Northeast Arctic cod)
Owned byInternational Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) – More
Related observationsLocate in inventorydisplay tree map
FAO Names: en - Atlantic cod, fr - Morue de l'Atlantique, es - Bacalao del Atlántico, zh - 大西洋鳕, ru - Треска атлантическая
Geographic extent of Cod - Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea, Spitzbergen and Bear Island
Main Descriptors
Considered a single stock: Yes        Spatial Scale: Sub-Regional
Management unit: Yes        Reference year: 2012
Biological State and Trend
State & Trend Descriptors
Exploitation rateBelow targetModerate fishing mortality
Abundance levelAbove triggerIntermediate abundance

The SSB has been above MSY Btrigger since 2002 and is now record high. The total stock biomass is close to the highest observed. Fishing mortality was reduced from well above Flim in 1997 to below FMSY in 2007 and is now close to its lowest value. Surveys indicate that year classes 2009–2011 are above average.
Habitat and Biology
Depth zone: Shelf (50 m - 200 m).   Vertical distribution: Demersal/Benthic.  

Geographical Distribution
Jurisdictional distribution: Shared between nations

Water Area Overview
Spatial Scale: Sub-Regional

Ecoregion: Barents Sea.
Geo References
Resource Structure
Considered a single stock: Yes

The fisheries

Cod is a target species caught in a mixed fishery together with haddock and saithe. In coastal areas, Northeast Arctic cod and coastal cod are caught in the same fishery during parts of the year. Redfish (both Sebastes mentella and S. marinus) are caught as bycatch in the cod fishery. TAC regulations are in place. Unreported catches have decreased in the recent years and were close to zero in 2009–2011. Discarding is illegal in Norway and Russia. Data on discarding are scarce, but attempts to obtain better quantification continue. The fisheries are controlled by inspections at sea by a requirement to report to catch control points when entering and leaving the EEZs to land fish, and by VMS satellite tracking for some fleets.
Catch distribution Total landings (2011) are 720 kt (70% demersal trawls and 30% other gear types).

Effects of the fisheries on the ecosystem

Fisheries of cod in the Barents Sea do not only influence the targeted stock. Because of strong species interactions the removal of cod, which is an important predator in the ecosystem, by fisheries influences the abundance of prey stocks such as capelin, haddock, and redfish.
Scientific Advice

ICES advises on the basis of the Joint Russian–Norwegian Fisheries Commission management plan that catches in 2013 should be no more than 940 000 t. Coastal cod and Sebastes marinus bycatches should be kept as low as possible.
Overall Assessment Results
Figure Cod in Subareas I and II. Summary of stock assessment (weights in thousand tonnes). Top right: SSB/F for the time-series used in the assessment.
Assessment Model

Quality consideration

The uncertainties in this assessment relate both to catch and survey data. Unreported catches (Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU)) have been a problem in recent years, but do not affect the data collected in 2009–2011. Due to technical problems with a Norwegian survey vessel the spatial coverage in the 2012 Joint winter survey was incomplete.

Norwegian sampling of commercial catches is believed to be less precise because of the termination of a Norwegian port sampling programme in mid-2009. The poor sampling caused problems in estimating Norwegian catches for the oldest ages in 2010. A small Norwegian port sampling programme from 2011 and onwards and an expansion of the high seas reference fleet has improved the situation somewhat. But there is still a lack of samples from certain gears and areas and the working group recommends an increase in port sampling effort.

Russian sampling of commercial catches has also shown a declining trend.
Figure Cod in Subareas I and II. Historical performance of the assessment (final-year estimates included).

Scientific basis

Assessment type Age-based analytical assessment (XSA) with cannibalism included.
Input data Three survey indices: Joint bottom trawl survey Barents Sea, Feb–Mar (BS-NoRu-Q1 (BTr)); Joint acoustic survey Barents Sea and Lofoten, Feb–Mar (BS-NoRu-Q1 (Aco));
Russian bottom trawl survey, Oct–Dec (RU-BTr-Q4).
One commercial cpue index; data from the Russian trawl fisheries.
Discards and bycatch Discards are not accounted for. Bycatch of undersized cod in shrimp fisheries is unknown but believed to be minor.
Indicators None.
Other information None.
Working group report AFWG
Management unit: Yes

Management plans

A management plan has been implemented since 2004 (Annex 3.4.1) with the objectives of maintaining high long-term yield, year-to-year stability of landings, and full utilization of all available information on stock dynamics. The plan was evaluated in 2010 and ICES considers that it is to be in accordance with the precautionary approach and not in contradiction to the MSY framework. At the 2010 meeting of the Joint Russian–Norwegian Fisheries Commission it was agreed that the plan will be in force until 2015.

Environmental influence on the stock

Among the factors influencing cod growth and recruitment are water temperature, food supply, and cod population abundance. Environmental drivers were used to estimate recruitment and temperature to estimate cod cannibalism. Changes in growth, maturity, and cod cannibalism are linked to the abundance of capelin. This linkage appears to be less pronounced in the recent period compared to the 1980s and 1990s. Capelin abundance is at present intermediate. The distribution area of cod has expanded northwards and eastwards in recent years, and is now the widest ever reported (north to 80°N and east to 56°E during the ecosystem survey in August–September).
Source of information

The above excerpts are from the first two pages of the ICES advice, the supporting information to this advice can be read in full at the following reference:
ICES. Cod in Subareas I and II (Northeast Arctic cod). Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, 2012. ICES Advice, June 2012. Click to open
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