Groundfish and pelagic species
Figures 2.5.7-2.5.8 show the main fleets catching bottom and pelagic fishes in the Barents Sea and Svalbard (Spitsbergen archipelago) areas. The pelagic fishery is only conducted by Russia and Norway where both countries target the capelin. Russia has, in addition, fished polar cod with pelagic trawl (Norway has not fished this species since the early 1980s), and Norway has in recent years fished some legal sized herring in a restricted coastal purse seine fishery inside 4 nautical miles off Finnmark. Further in the south western part of the Barents Sea (south-west of a line between Sørøya and Bear Island), extending into the Norwegian Sea, an international herring fishery has been open in some seasons.
The Norwegian groundfish fishery is much more diverse compared to Russia and other countries regarding the number of fleets. The trawler fleet itself is also rather diverse both within and between countries. In the Norwegian groundfish fishery several other gears are also used in addition to trawl. The gear composition also depends on which groundfish species the fishery targets. The Norwegian bottom trawl fleet catch about 30% of the Norwegian cod catch, about 40% of the haddock, and more than 40% of the Norwegian saithe and Greenland halibut catches. The Russian bottom trawl fleet catch about 100% of the Russian saithe catch, about 95% of cod and haddock, 90% of the Russian Greenland halibut catch and about 37% of wolfishes. Other countries fishing groundfish in these waters only use trawl, incl. some pair-trawling. It is mandatory in all groundfish trawl fisheries to use sorting grid to avoid catching undersized fish. The one and only exception from this rule is within an area in the southwestern part of the Barents Sea during 1 January – 30 April where trawling without sorting grids is permitted to catch haddock.
The landings of northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) from the Barents Sea have varied between 25,000 and 130,000 tonnes. Norwegian vessels take about 90% of the catches, while vessels from Russia and the EU account for the rest. About 3% of the Norwegian catches are caught by smaller vessels in fjords and coastal areas. Most of the shrimp trawlers do also have a license to fish groundfish. In 2008, 18 Norwegian trawlers fished for northern shrimp, and only three of these were trawlers without groundfish license. Norwegian and Russian vessels exploit the stock in the entire area, while vessels from other nations are restricted to the Svalbard (Spitsbergen archipelago) fishery zone. There is no TAC established for this stock. The fishery is partly regulated by effort control. Licenses are required for the Russian and Norwegian vessels. The fishing activity of these license holders are constrained only by bycatch regulations, whereas the activity of third country fleets operating in the Svalbard (Spitsbergen archipelago) zone is also restricted by the number of effective fishing days and the number of vessels by country. The minimum stretched mesh size is 35 mm. Other species than shrimp are protected by mandatory sorting grids (Nordmore grid) and by temporary closing areas where excessive bycatch of juvenile cod, haddock, Greenland halibut, redfish or shrimp <15 mm length (CL) is registered. The shrimp trawlers use single, double or triple trawl.
Red King Crab
In 2002 both Russia and Norway started commercial harvesting of the red king crab in the Barents Sea. In both countries, this is a trap fishery which is regulated by quotas and fishing season. In Russia, 30 vessels have licence to fish red king crab. The fishery of female and undersized king crab is forbidden, while in Norway in all regulated fishing areas a small part of the quota may consist of females.
In Norway, the main fishing field is within the big fjords and along the coast of East-Finnmark. The commercial fishery for red king crab has now become a substantial fishery including a total of 400 Norwegian vessels. Inside 12 nautical miles off East-Finnmark (east of 26E), only vessels less than 21 meters with a licence are allowed to participate, and the fishery is regulated by vessel quotas. The quota season in the Norwegian regulated area is from 1 April to 31 March. Legal size for the crabs is 13.7 cm carapax length and above. Outside this area, except in the Grey Zone, all vessels are allowed to catch red king crab (no quota or gear limitations).
In Russia, the main fishing area for red king crab is the Murman Shallow (7) and the Eastern coastal area (14) (see Figure 2.5.3.). The fishing season in Russia is from 1 September to 15 February. Legal size for the male crabs is 15 cm carapax width and above.
Minke whales in the Northeast Atlantic are commercially exploited by Norway. The management of this species is based on application of the Revised Management Procedure (RMP) developed by the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission. The total quota for 2009 is 885 animals. A licence is required for vessels to hunt minke whales. In 2008, 27 vessels (average vessel length of 22.4 meter) participated in the hunting. The hunt is conducted by harpoon grenades, and detailed prescriptions exist on how the hunt should be conducted and the weapons and ammunition used and secured.
No Norwegian vessel participated in the harp seal hunt in the East Ice (White Sea) in 2008. In the West Ice (Greenland Sea) one vessel did participate, also catching hooded seals.
Russia has an annual harp seal hunt in the White Sea during moulting time. The total Russian harp seal catch in 2008 was 13 331 animals. All of these were pups, i.e. age less than 1 year. The Russian hunting method has changed in recent years from mainly using helicopters to ice-going mother vessels with smaller hunting vessels. The total catch has in recent years been far below the recommended quota - in the West Ice only 3%, and in the East Ice only 7% of the recommended.