Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Greenland Cod - Davies Strait and Denmark Strait
Marine Resource  Fact Sheet
ICES Advice 2009
Greenland Cod - Davies Strait and Denmark Strait
Fact Sheet Citation  
Cod in ICES Subarea XIV and NAFO Subarea 1 (Greenland cod)
Owned byInternational Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) – More
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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 Greenland Cod - Davies Strait and Denmark Strait
Main Descriptors
Considered a single stock: Yes        Spatial Scale: Sub-Regional
Management unit: Yes        Reference year: 2008
Biological State and Trend
State & Trend Descriptors
Exploitation rateUndefinedUncertain/Not assessed
Abundance levelUndefinedUncertain/Not assessed

Spawning biomass in relation to precautionary limits Fishing mortality in relation to precautionary limits Fishing mortality in relation to high long term yield Fishing mortality in relation to agreed target reference points Comment
Undefined/Unknown Undefined/Unknown Undefined/Unknown NA/unknown  

In the absence of defined reference points the state of the stock cannot be fully evaluated. The offshore component has been severely depleted since 1990. Surveys indicate that the stock is increasing, but it is still far below historical levels. Some of the increase may be due to inflow of recruits (2003 year class) from Iceland. Dense concentrations of large spawning cod have been found off East Greenland, indicating that a Greenland offshore spawning stock is being established.

Stock size and exploitation rate of the inshore component are unknown.
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

Geo References
Resource Structure
Considered a single stock: Yes

Factors affecting the fisheries and the stock

Regulations and their effects

In the offshore fisheries the regulations in force include quota constraints, closed areas, minimum mesh size and minimum landing size (40 cm). Greenland has set an offshore cod TAC of 10 000 t in 2009. To protect the spawning stock in the Greenland EEZ all fishery for cod is prohibited north of 62°N latitude off East Greenland. Off West Greenland the offshore areas north of 61°N Latitude is closed for fisheries for cod to protect the 2005 year-class that will enter the SSB in 2010-12

For the first time a coastal fleets TAC is set at 10 000 t , in 2009. The fleet is limited by gear, vessel size, and minimum landing size, and is mostly operating inshore/coastal..

Changes in fishing technology and fishing patterns

Cod is taken in a targeted trawl fishery. By-catches of juvenile cod is mainly in the shrimp fishery. Since 1989 a major shift in the West Greenland shrimp fishery towards southern fishing grounds has occurred. This trend has been reversed since 2005 as the fishery has gradually been shifting northward again. Before the introduction of the sorting grid in 2002, juvenile cod may have been bycaught at higher rates in the shrimp fishery than at present. The bycatches of cod in the present shrimp fisheries are estimated as being insignificant.

Impacts of the environment on the stock

Deterioration of the environmental conditions, combined with high fishing mortality, caused the offshore cod stock to be severely depleted in the 1970s.

The present environmental and biological conditions (high temperatures and large shrimp stocks) have facilitated re-colonization of the offshore areas.
Assessment Model

Scientific basis

Data and methods

Analytical assessment is available up to 1992. After the stock depletion in 1992 the trends of the stock have been based on two research survey indices (Figure

Information from the fishing industry

For the first time in 15 years observations of spawning cod at the East Greenland shelf was done by means of an exploratory trawl fishery in the spring of 2007

Uncertainties in the assessment and forecast

The main uncertainties in the assessment are related to difficulties in distinguishing different cod stock components, changes in survey design, and low sampling intensity from commercial catches.

Comparison with previous assessment and advice

The advice is the same as last year.
Overall Assessment Results

Figure Greenland cod in ICES Subarea XIV and NAFO Subarea 1. Catches 1920–2008 as used by the Working Group, inshore and offshore by West and offshore by East Greenland. Columns are stacked

Figure German survey, Cod off Greenland. Aggregated survey biomass indices for West and East Greenland and revised spawning stock biomass, 1982-2008. Error bars indicate 95% confidence intervals on the total biomass. Incomplete survey coverage in 1984, 1992, 1994, 2006 and 2007.

Figure Greenland cod in ICES Subarea XIV and NAFO Subarea 1. The biomass 3+ and SSB of the cod in Greenland waters stock derived by applying survey-VPA conversion factors (white) compared to the former VPA estimates 1965–95 (blue).

Country 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993
Faroe Islands - - 51 1 - -
Germany 6.574 12.892 7.515 96 - -
Greenland 52.135 92.152 58.816 20.238 5.723 1.924
Japan 10 - - - - -
Norway 7 2 948 - - -
UK 927 3780 1.631 - - -
Total 59.653 108.826 68.961 20.335 5.723 1.924
WG estimate 62.653 2 111.567 3 98.474 4 - - -

Country 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Faroe Islands - - - -    
Germany - - - -    
Greenland 2.115 1.710 948 904 319 622
Japan - - - -    
Norway - - - -    
UK - - - -    
Togo 2.115 1.710        
Total - - 948 904 319 622
WG estimate     - - - -

Country 2000 2001 20021 20031 20041 2005
Faroe Islands            
Greenland 764 1680 3698 3989 4948  
Norway       693 5    
Togo       533 5    
Total 764 1680 3698 5215    
WG estimate - -       6118

Table Greenland cod in ICES Subarea XIV and NAFO Subarea 1, Nominal landings in tonnes of cod in NAFO Subarea 1, 1988–2008 as officially reported to ICES.
Country 2006 2007 2008
Faroe Islands      
WG estimate 7769 13313 21921
1) Provisional data reported by Greenland authorities2) Includes 3,000 t reported to be caught in ICES Sub-area XIV3) Includes 2,741 t reported to be caught in ICES Sub-area XIV4) Includes 29,513 t caught inshore5) Transshipment from local inshore fishers

Country 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993
Faroe Islands 12 40 - - - -
Germany 12.049 10.613 26.419 8.434 5.893 164
Greenland 345 3.715 4.442 6.677 1.283 241
Iceland 9 - - - 22 -
Norway - - 17 828 1.032 122
Russia   - - - 126  
UK (Engl. and Wales) - 1.158 2.365 5.333 2.532 -
UK (Scotland) - 135 93 528 463 163
United Kingdom - - - - - 46
Total 12.415 15.661 33.336 21.800 11.351 -
WG estimate 9.457 1 14.669 2 33.513 3 21.818 4 - 736

Country 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Faroe Islands 1 - - - - 6
Germany 24 22 5 39 128 13
Greenland 73 29 5 32 37 5 + 5
Iceland - 1 - -   -
Norway 14 + 1 - + 2
Portugal         31 -
UK (E/W/NI) - 232 181 284 149 95
United Kingdom 296          
Total 408 284 192 355 345 116
WG estimate - - - - - -

Table Greenland cod in ICES Subarea XIV and NAFO Subarea 1, Nominal landings in tonnes of cod in ICES Subarea XIV, 1988–2008 as officially reported to ICES.
Country 2000 2001 20025 20035 2004 2005
Faroe Islands         329 205
Germany 3 92 5 1    
Greenland   4 232 78 23 1
Iceland - 210        
Norway - 5 43 13   5 507
Portugal - 278        
UK (E/W/NI) 149 129       55
United Kingdom     34      
Total 152 756 284 79 357  
WG estimate -   4486 2947   8368
1) Excluding 3,000t assumed to be from NAFO Division 1F and including 42t taken by Japan2) Excluding 2,74 t assumed to be from NAFO Division 1F and including 1,500t reported from other areas assumed to be from Sub-area XIV and including 94t by Japan and 155t by Greenland (Horsted, 1994)3) Includes 129t by Japan and 48 t additional catches by Greenland (Horsted, 1994)4) Includes 18t by Japan5) Provisional data6) Includes 164t from Faroe Islands7) Includes 215t from Faroe Islands8) Includes 68t from Norway

Table Cont Nominal Catch (t) of cod in ICES Subarea XIV/
Country 2006 2007 2008
Faroe Islands   305  
Germany 775 772  
Norway 479 613  
UK (E/W/NI)      
United Kingdom   180  
WG estimate 1981 3221 2997
Reference Point

No reference points have been proposed by ICES for this stock.
Scientific Advice

Single-stock exploitation boundaries

Exploitation boundaries in relation to existing management plans

Because the management agreement has not been evaluated, ICES will not advise according to this agreement.

Exploitation boundaries in relation to precautionary considerations

ICES recommends that no fishery should take place in 2010 to allow for rebuilding of the spawning stock. ICES recommends the development of a multi-annual management plan which ensures sustainable stock development.

Management unit: Yes

Management Objectives

Greenland and EC established an agreement on offshore fisheries valid from 2007 to 2012. A variable TAC regulation has been agreed, with annual TACs adjusted to take account of ICES information on stock trends but aiming at fishing mortalities at 0.1. The agreement also provides for a transfer of unutilized quota into future years, should a rapid increase in the stock occur.

The management agreement between EC and Greenland has not been evaluated by ICES.
Management Advice

Management considerations

A multi-annual management plan should include monitoring the trajectory of the stock, clearly stating specified reopening criteria, and monitoring the fishery when it is reopened.

Cod in Greenland derives from three stock components, labeled by their spawning areas: I) an offshore Greenland spawning stock, II) inshore West Greenland fiords spawning populations, and III) Icelandic spawned cod that drift to Greenland with the Irminger Current. It is not feasible to sample and assess stock status of the various stock components separately, and they are therefore assessed together.

In the last century, particularly prior to WWII large immigration of adult cod from Greenland to Icelandic waters are suspected to have occurred based on results from tagging returns. Based on catch at age data attempts have been made to estimate these immigrations in the current assessment that commences in 1955. High abundance of larvae in East Greenland waters in years where recruitments has been high in Iceland indicate that some of these year classes have originated from spawning in Iceland. Based on the present status of cod stocks in Greenland, no substantial immigration to Iceland can be expected in the near future. It is, however, possible that the moderate 2003 year class presently found in Greenland waters could originate from Icelandic waters.

The offshore Greenland spawning grounds have not been exploited in the past 15 years. Surveys and exploratory fishery now suggest dense concentrations of large spawning cod in East Greenland. The size of the current spawning area is limited compared to the spawning grounds observed historically. Productivity in the offshore area have improved since the end of the 1990s although it is still low compared to the productivity before the stock was depleted. The size of the relatively strong 2003 year class is estimated at around 25% of the last really strong year class (1984) and shows the characteristics usually associated with cod that have drifted from Iceland (associations with haddock of the same age and a southern distribution). The proportion of the Greenland offshore cod stock that originates from the Icelandic stock is not known.

Inshore spawning occurs in many West Greenland fiords and recruitment has increased in recent years in the areas surveyed (Figure Recruitment is now well above the lows observed in the late 1990s. The landings by the coastal fleet component have increased by a factor of ten over the last decade.
Source of information
ICES.2009.Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, 2009. ICES Advice, 2009.
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