Cod abundant, other species in decline, finds joint expedition

THE latest joint Norwegian-Russian fishery survey has revealed that whilst cod stocks are in a very healthy position, herring, haddock and capelin are in serious decline.
The expeditions, which were carried out by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research and the Russian Pinro, are a crucial part of Barents Sea fishery management regime of the two countries, explains a report in Alaska Dispatch News.
Four vessels – three Norwegian and one Russian – were involved in the survey, which took place over a period of a month and a half and monitored a wide range of marine species. In all, 21,000 fish samples were examined.
The joint expeditions have been conducted since 1965, and the data is key to quota allocation by the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fishery Commission.
The data suggests that Barents Sea cod stocks are at the second-highest level since the expeditions began, but herring and capelin stocks are far lower than expected. Even worse is polar cod, which is about to reach a critical stage.
Large volumes of ice meant that the expedition was unable to survey the northernmost part of the Barents Sea. ‘Originally we wanted to move all the way to the 83rd degree north, but we made it only to the 78th degree,’ explained Eriksen.
‘The reason for the big ice concentration in the area is this year’s wind conditions, not colder weather.’