Three species of wolfish — Atlantic wolffish (Anarhichas lupus), Spotted wolffish (Anarhichas minor), and Northern wolffish (Anarhichas denticulatus) — live in the Barents Sea. The abundance and biomass of all three species is relatively low (Figure 4.3.48), but they are all widely distributed throughout the Sea. The stock size of Atlantic wolffish and spotted wolffish, as measured by area-swept-clear estimates, has been relatively stable since 2004; the Northern wolffish has varied between 35,000
During the recent warming period (1998-2012), distinct trends were observed in abundance of fish species from different zoogeographic groups (Figure 4.3.54). The abundance of coldwater fish species (Arctic, mainly Arctic, and Arcto-boreal) decreased during the period between 2000 and 2010. However, a trend of slight increase has been observed since 2010 in the abundance of mainly arctic and Arcto-boreal groups.
Based on the most recent estimates of SSB and fishing mortality, ICES classifies the stock as having full reproductive capacity and being harvested sustainably. The 2002 and 2004 year classes dominate the current spawning stock which is estimated to be 5 million tonnes in 2013. The year classes 2005-2012 are all below average, while the 2013 year class is around average. The abundance of herring in the Barents Sea is believed to be at an intermediate level in 2014.
For more than a decade, recruitment failure has been observed in Barents Sea redfish stocks (Figure 4.3.42); but signs of improvement have been observed recently. With this understanding, it is important that juvenile age groups are given the strongest protection from being caught as bycatch in any fishery, e.g., shrimp fisheries in the Barents Sea and Svalbard area where significant numbers of young redfish often occur (Figure 4.3.43). This will ensure that the recruiting year classes can contribute as much as possible to stock rebuilding (ICES AFWG, 2014).
Based on the most recent estimates of fishing mortality and SSB, ICES classifies the stock as having full reproductive capacity and being harvested sustainably. SSB increased to a historic high in 2003, and then decreased; there is evidence, however, that SSB is now increasing again. Blue whiting is not fished in the Barents Sea; however a TAC is set for the entire Northeast Atlantic region. Total landings in 2012 were estimated at 384,000 tonnes.
Capelin stock size has been stable since 2008 (Figure 4.3.49). Spawning stock size in 2014 was predicted from September-October 2013 acoustic survey data in combination with results from a model — estimating maturity, growth, and mortality (including predation by cod). The model accounts for uncertainties in both survey estimates and other input data. At catch levels below 65,000 tonnes (during spring 2014), the probability of SSB falling below 200,000 tonnes was less than 5 %.
Based on the most recent estimates of spawning stock biomass (SSB), ICES classifies the cod stock as having full reproductive capacity and being harvested sustainably (Figure 4.3.38). The SSB has been above Bpa since 2002 and is now at a record high level, while the total stock biomass is at a level not seen since the early 1950s. Currently the stock is dominated by large individuals from the very abundant 2004-2006 year classes; these year classes largely support the current fishery (ICES AFWG, 2014).
The polar cod stock is presently at a low level of abundance (Figure 4.3.51). Norway conducted commercial fisheries for this species during the 1970s; Russia has fished this stock on a quite regular basis since 1970. Nevertheless, for many years the fishery has been so small that it is believed to have little impact on stock development. Stock size has been measured acoustically since 1986, and has fluctuated between 0.1-1.9 million tonnes.
Greenland halibut is widely distributed in the Barents Sea. Catches are highest along the continental slope where the main spawning grounds are located (Figure 4.3.45). The northern and north-eastern part of the Sea is regarded as a nursery area for the stock (Figure 4.3.46). This species is also relatively abundant in many of the deep channels running between shallow fishing banks of the Barents Sea (ICES AFWG, 2014).