Beaked redfish (Sebastes mentella)

Fisheries and other harvesting
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The stock of beaked redfish in ICES Subareas I and II, also called the Norwegian-Barents Sea stock, is found in the northeast Arctic from 62ºN in the south to the Arctic ice north and east of Spitsbergen (Figure 4.4.2). The southern limit of its distribution is not well defined, but is believed to be somewhere on the slope northwest of Shetland; the abundance of this species decreases south of this latitude. Nonetheless, the 62ºN boundary defines the management unit more so than biological stock

separation. The analytical assessment and management advice are provided for ICES Subareas I and II combined.

Fisheries for beaked redfish are conducted in both national and international waters of the Barents Sea under different management authorities using different management schemes. In international waters, a pelagic fishery for beaked redfish is managed by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). In recent years, an Olympic fishery has been conducted with a set TAC that is not derived from a harvest control rule. In national waters of the Barents Sea, a demersal fishery based on bycatch is conducted with specific bycatch regulations. It is important that management decisions taken at national and international levels are coordinated to ensure that the total catch in ICES Subareas I and II does not exceed the recommended TAC.

Since 2004, a directed pelagic fishery for beaked redfish in international waters beyond the EEZ of countries bordering the Norwegian Sea has developed. In 2013, this fishery had a TAC of 19,500 metric tons, of which about 9,300 metric tons were landed. Otherwise, this species is taken: as bycatch in demersal fisheries for cod, haddock, and Greenland halibut; as juveniles in the shrimp trawl fisheries; and occasionally in pelagic fisheries for blue whiting and herring in the Norwegian Sea.

There have been several consecutive years (1998–2005) with very low recruitment of this long-lived, late-maturing species. This trend together with continued landings, suggests that SSB of beaked redfish may be expected to decline in the near future. The Joint Russian-Norwegian Fisheries Commission decided to avoid sharply increased quotas over the next years and to pursue a more precautionary approach. This is significant since implementation of a new analytical method may give rise to shortcomings. Because beaked redfish is a long-lived species, there should be no loss of long-term revenue by waiting for evidence of improved stock conditions before increasing the TAC. As with the management of many other long-lived species, and in keeping with responsible and precautionary strategies, TAC-increases should be made gradually, and not following a single year of perceived improvement.

At present, no fishing mortality or biological reference points have been determined for this stock. An F0.1 value of 0.039 is considered a good proxy for FMSY when the stock has been re-built. For 2014, ICES advised a status-quo TAC of 24,000 metric tons for beaked redfish, and that measures currently in place to protect juveniles should be maintained. Currently estimated fishing mortality is below the assumed natural mortality (0.05) and below the proxy for FMSY (F0.1=0.039) (see Figure 4.4.2). Fishing at F0.1, which is close to the assumed value of natural mortality is not considered to be detrimental to the stock.

ICES has evaluated a variety of proposed management strategies for the beaked redfish stock and identified a number of options that are considered precautionary and consistent with the MSY approach. They conclude that the following elements should be incorporated in a future management plan:

  • A biomass trigger of 600,000 metric tons is a good starting point for management
  • There is little long-term gain in yield if Ftarget is increased above 0.039
  • The stock and recruitment might benefit from delayed or gradual implementation of a management plan, or a gradual increase of F (fishing at Ftarget only after stronger incoming year classes have fully recruited to the fishery in 2017/2018). A low fixed TAC in the initial period or a stabilizing element in the management plan might have a similar effect if implemented on the basis of recent catches

On the basis of these precautionary considerations, ICES advises that annual catch in 2015, 2016, and 2017 be set at no more than 30,000 metric tons, and that measures currently in place to protect juveniles should be maintained.

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