The major demersal stocks in the Northeast Arctic include cod, haddock, saithe, and shrimp. In addition, redfish, Greenland halibut, wolffish, and flatfishes (e.g. long rough dab, plaice) are common on the shelf and at the continental slope, and ling and tusk at the slope and in deeper waters. In 2008, catches of nearly 900 thousand tonnes (provisional figures) are reported from the stocks of cod, haddock, saithe, redfish, and Greenland halibut, which is a decrease of 10% as compared to 2006. An additional catch of about 40 000 tonnes was taken from the stocks of wolfish and shrimp.
The annual fishing mortalities F (the mortality rate is linked to the proportion of the population being fished by 1 e-F) for the assessed demersal fish stocks show large temporal variation within species and large differences across species from 0.1 (10% mortality) for some years for Sebastes marinus to above 1 (63% mortality) for some years for cod (Figure 2.5.1.) The major pelagic stocks are capelin, herring, and polar cod. There was no fishery for capelin in the area in 2004-2008 due to the stock’s poor condition, but in 2009 the stock is again sufficient sound to support a quota of 390 000 tonnes.
Russia, as the only nation currently fishing polar cod, fished 8 190 tonnes polar cod in 2008. Norwegian spring spawning herring is the largest stock inhabiting the Northeast Arctic with its spawning stock estimated to 12.6 million tonnes in 2009. 1.5 million tonnes were fished from this stock in 2008, of which about 280 000 tonnes were caught near the Norwegian coast in the south-western part of the Barents Sea. The highly migratory species blue whiting and mackerel extend their feeding migrations into this region, and in 2007 about 65 000 tonnes mackerel and 120 000 tonnes blue whiting were caught in the area, none of this, however, within the Barents Sea. Species with relatively small landings include salmon, Atlantic halibut, hake, pollack, whiting, Norway pout, anglerfish, lumpsucker, argentines, grenadiers, flatfishes, dogfishes, skates, crustaceans, and molluscs.
The most widespread gear used in the central Barents Sea is bottom trawl, but also long line and gillnets are used in the demersal fisheries. The pelagic fisheries use purse seine and pelagic trawl. Other gears more common along the coast include handline and Danish seine. Less frequently used gears are float line (used in a small but directed fishery for haddock along the coast of Finnmark, Norway) and various pots and traps for fish and crabs. The gears used vary with time, area and country, with Norway having the largest variety because of the coastal fishery. For Russia, the most common gear is bottom trawl, but a longline fishery mainly directed at cod and wolffish is also present. The other countries mainly use bottom trawl.
For most of the exploited stocks an agreed quota is decided (TAC), and also a number of additional regulations are applied. The regulations differ among gears and species and may be different from country to country, and a non-exhaustive list as well as a description of the major fisheries in the Barents Sea by species can be found in Table 2.5.1.