Some top species being caught below quota –

Some top species being caught below quota Published:  31 October, 2007

Fishing for Greenland halibut has been difficult Photo: NOAA

LIKE their colleagues further South, Nordic trawler fleets are catching way below the quota limits for some of the most popular and high priced species of fish, new figures have revealed.

The latest information shows that Icelandic vessels landed just 57 per cent of the quota for Greenland halibut. Fishing for this variety has been difficult, with only 9,200 tonnes of the 16,000 tonne total allowable catch actually landed. Once quota trading in this species had been taken into account, 1,677 tonnes still remained unaccounted for.

And the latest Marine Institute figures show that only 13 per cent of the 1,800 tonnes rough dab quota was caught, with just 239 tonnes declared by skippers. Only 700 tonnes of the 2,400 tonne common dab quota was netted.

The saithe quota was also left short, with 56,000 tonnes of the 71,00 tonne quota caught, but the largest shortfall was in deep water shrimp, with an 8,900 tonne quota for 2006-07 and only 1,900 tonnes landed.

However, there were also some catches over quota, with landings of lemon sole amounting to 2,800 tonnes – 900 tonnes above the permitted catch level. Officials say that quota exchanges with other species more or less accounted for the overshoot. In the same way, over-quota catches of catfish, ling and tusk were also balanced out with quota exchanges with other species. The fishing journal Fiskifrettir says transfers are quite common in this region, but are carried out under strictly controlled fisheries management rules. The most exchanged species during the last quota year were saithe, Greenland halibut, dab and lemon sole.

The fact that some quotas are being under-utilised for a variety of reasons has been overshadowed by the huge cut in the cod quota this summer, which has hit the Icelandic industry hard. Because cod and haddock often swim together the move means that the full haddock quota will not be caught over the next 12 months either, but there is little trawler skippers can do about that.

Fridrik J Arngrimsson of the Icelandic Federation of Fishing Vessel Operators said recently that although various fishing companies now have to cope with differing circumstances, in general the coming year would be tough with many operators extending their lay-up time.

He added: “It is clear that this small cod quota will lead to job losses and losses of income. We can also expect to see companies simply closing down.”

Meanwhile, the Norwegian-Icelandic herring quota for 2008 remains virtually unchanged with an agreed catch of 1,266,000 tonnes with Norway taking the major share at 772,260 tonnes. Iceland’s quota is slightly down at 183,697 tonnes, Russia gets 162,301 tonnes, the Faroe Islands 65,320 tonnes and the European Union countries get 82,417 tonnes. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.