Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Redfish - Flemish Cap
Fact Sheet Title  Fact Sheet
Stocks management recommendations 2023
Redfish - Flemish Cap
Fact Sheet Citation  
Redfish in Div. 3M
Owned byNorthwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) – ownership
ident Blockident Blockdisplay tree map
Species List:
Species Ref: en - Atlantic redfishes nei, fr - Sébastes de l'Atlantique nca, es - Gallinetas del Atlántico nep, ru - Окуни морские
ident Block Redfish - Flemish Cap
Aq Res
Biological Stock: Yes         Value: Regional
Management unit: Yes        Reference year: 2022
Aq Res State Trend
Aq Res State Trend
Aq Res State Trend Aq Res State Trend
Aq Res State TrendModerate mortalityModerate fishing mortalityGreen
Aq Res State TrendIntermediate Stock SizeIntermediate abundance

SSB has declined since 2014, but in 2022 is still well above the long term mean. After an extended period of declining recruitment, the recruitment estimates for 2020 and 2021 are at or above the mean while the 2022 value is low. Fishing mortality remains relatively low compared to the 1980s and 1990s.
Habitat Bio
Climatic Zone: Temperate.   Bottom Type: Unspecified.   Depth Zone: Slope - Deepslope (500 m - 1000 m).   Horizontal Dist: Oceanic.   Vertical Dist: Demersal/Benthic.  

Geo Dist
Geo Dist: High Seas Purely

Water Area Overview
Spatial Scale: Regional

Water Area Overview
Aq Res Struct
Biological Stock: Yes


Redfish is caught in directed bottom trawl fisheries at intermediate depths (300-700m), but also as bycatch in fisheries directed for cod and Greenland halibut. The fishery in NAFO Div. 3M is regulated by minimum mesh size and quota.

Recent catch estimates and TACs (000 t) are as follows:
Bio Assess
Ref Point

No reference points have been adopted.

Short term (2024-2026) stochastic projections were carried out for female spawning stock biomass (SSB) and catch, under the most recent level of natural mortality and considering six options for fishing mortality and catch levels (F0, F0.1, F=M, Fstatusquo, 1.25 TAC and 0.75 TAC). Projections assume that redfish catches (all species) in 2023 are equal to the redfish TAC (Fstatusquo is defined as the corresponding F). Recruitment entering in 2023 to 2025 is given by the geometric mean of the 2017-2019 recruitments (age 4 XSA).

The assessment has had a consistent tendency to underestimate stock size (both SSB and 4+biomass) for the last five years. Since the previous assessment in 2021 the fishable biomass series has therefore been revised upwards and in addition this component of the stock has increased since 2021. The potential yields estimated in the projections are therefore also more optimistic than seen in the 2021 assessment. STACFIS was not able to resolve the reason for this retrospective pattern, and this adds uncertainty to the projection results., SSB is projected to decline under all projection scenarios, with the exception of the F=0 scenario, and to be at around the average for the assessment time-series (since the late 1980s) by 2026.

Assess Models
Analytical assessment

Input data comes from the EU Flemish Cap bottom trawl survey and the fishery. A quantitative model (XSA) introduced in 2003 was used. Increased natural mortality was assumed from 2006 to 2010, but natural mortality was low (more typical of redfish) in other years. There is no evidence that natural mortality has increased recently from the level of 0.1 adopted in the 2017 assessment, and therefore, the 2021 XSA assessment was run with average M from 2015 onwards kept at 0.1.

The next full assessment of this stock will be in 2024.

Fishing Mortality



Human impact

Mainly fishery related mortality. Other sources (e.g. pollution, shipping, oil-industry) are undocumented.

Biological and environmental interactions

Shrimp and cod are important prey and predator of redfish. There are strong trophic interactions between these species in the Flemish Cap.

The Flemish Cap (3M) Ecosystem Production Unit (EPU) has not experienced sustained reductions in overall productivity observed in other EPUs. With the exception of a short-lived increase in 2005-2009, total EPU biomass has remained fairly stable over time despite the changes in individual stocks.
Management unit: Yes


Recommendation for 2024

Some instability in the assessment results compared to previous assessments was evident. SC was not able to resolve the reason for this retrospective pattern and this adds uncertainty to the projection results.

Given the uncertainty in the projections, this stock will be reassessed in 2024, and therefore SC is providing advice for only one year. The TAC corresponding to a fishing mortality of F0.1 would be 21 888 t in 2024. However, SC advises that fishing mortality be kept at the current level, corresponding to a TAC of 17 503 t in 2024.

No explicit management plan or management objectives defined by Fisheries Commission. Convention General Principles are applied (NAFO GC Doc. 07-04).

Stock definition for management purposes

Catches of redfish in Div. 3M include three species of the genus Sebastes; S. mentella, S. norvegicus (=S. marinus) and S. fasciatus. For management purposes, they are considered as one stock. The assessment and advice are based on data for only two species (S. mentella & S. fasciatus), labeled as beaked redfish. The TAC advice is adjusted to reflect all three species on the Flemish Cap, based upon the relative species distribution in recent surveys.
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Scientific Council Documents. SCR Doc. 23/003, 23/040, 21/34 and SCS Docs. 23/06, 23/13, 22/06, 22/13, 21/05, 21/06. Click to open
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). 2023. Report of the Scientific Council Meeting, 2 – 15 June, 2023. NAFO SCS Doc. 23/18. Click to open
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). 2008. Resolution on the Interpretation and Implementation of the Convention on the Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries. 30th Annual Meeting – September 2008. NAFO/GC Doc. 08/3. Click to open
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