Based on the most recent estimates of spawning stock biomass (SSB, Figure 4.3.19), ICES classifies the stock as having full reproductive capacity and being harvested sustainably. Based on the most recent estimates of fishing mortality, the stock is at present exploited with a fishing mortality below that intended under the agreed management plan. The SSB has been above Bpa since 2002. Surveys indicate that the 2004-2005 year classes are above average while the 2006-2008 year classes are below average.
Fishing mortality was in the range 0.50-0.75 from 2001-2006, but dropped to 0.35 in 2007 and 0.30 in 2008. This fishing mortality is in the range that is associated with high long-term yield and low risk of depleting the production potential. The accepted harvest control rule gives a TAC for 2010 of 577 500 t. This TAC is determined by the 10 % limit on annual increase of the quota, and gives a fishing mortality below that intended under the agreed management plan.
There are concerns about under-reporting of catches in recent years. However, the estimated amount of unreported landings decreased considerably from 2006 to 2008. This is connected with the port state control introduced by NEAFC from 1 May 2007. Unreported landings will reduce the effect of management measures and will undermine the intended objectives of the harvest control rule. It is important that management agencies ensure that all catches are counted against the TAC.
Figure 4.3.19 - Figure 4.3.20. Click to enlarge
The geographical distribution of this stock is expanding to the north and east. This is related to the increase in temperature observed in the Barents Sea in recent years. It is important that the spatial coverage of the surveys is increased to take this into account.