Photo: Bjørn Frantzen, Norwegian Polar Institute

The extent of the shipping activity is not obtained numerically. However, maps showing the AIS tracking of vessel in the Barents Sea in August, 2012 to 2018, confirms the increased fisheries effort east of Svalbard and also an increase in passenger vessels to the Svalbard area (Figure 3.9.6.1).

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Photo: Cecilie von Quillfeldt, Norwegian Polar Institute

The level of discarding in fisheries is not estimated, and discards are not accounted for in stock assessments. Both undersized fish and by-catch of other species can lead to discarding; fish of legal size but low market value are also subject to discarding to fill the quota with larger and more valuable species (known as high-grading).

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Northern minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata). Photo: Ann Kristin Balto, Norwegian Polar Institute

Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

Management of the minke whale is based on the Revised Management Procedure (RMP) developed by the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission. Inputs to this procedure are catch statistics and absolute abundance estimates.

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Fishing boats. Photo: Stein Tronstad, Norwegian Polar Insitute

Total catches

Fishing has the largest anthropogenic impact on fish stocks in the Barents Sea, and thereby, on the functioning of the entire ecosystem. However, observed variations in both fish species and ecosystem are also strongly affected by climate and trophic interactions. During the last decade, catches of most important commercial species in the Barents Sea and adjacent waters of Norwegian and Greenland Sea varied around 1.5–3 million tonnes and has decreased in the last years (Figure 3.9.1.1).

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Fishing activity. Photo: Stein Tronstad, Norwegian Polar Institute

Fishing activity in the Barents Sea is tracked by the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS). Figure 3.9.4.1 show fishing activity in 2017 based on Russian and Norwegian data. VMS data offer valuable information about temporal and spatial changes in fishing activity. Figure 3.9.4.2 show the use of gear in 2017 and annual fishing intensity reported to the Norwegian fishery authorities in 2011-2017. The most widespread gear used in the Barents Sea is bottom trawl; but long lines, gillnets, Danish seines, and handlines are also used in demersal fisheries. Pelagic fisheries use purse seines and pelagic trawls. The shrimp fishery used special bottom trawls.

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Photo: Institute of marine research, Norway

Northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis)

Norwegian and Russian vessels harvest northern shrimp over the stock’s entire area of distribution in the Barents Sea. Vessels from other nations are restricted to trawling shrimp only in the Svalbard zone and the Loophole — a piece of international waters surrounded by the EEZs of Norway and Russia.

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