Based on the most recent estimates of SSB, ICES classifies the stock as having full reproductive capacity. Based on the most recent estimates of fishing mortality, ICES classifies the stock to be harvested sustainable. Fishing mortality is stable and has since 1996 been below Fpa. The SSB (Figure 4.3.30) has since 1994 been well above Bpa. After a long period of low stock size, the stock recovered during the 1990s with the recruitment of several above-average year classes.
The current estimated fishing mortality (0.20) is just above the lowest fishing mortality that would lead to high long-term yields (F0.1 =0.14). ICES evaluated a Harvest Control Rule (HCR) for NEA saithe in 2007 and concluded that it was consistent with the precautionary approach. Norwegian authorities implemented the HCR autumn 2007. This rule has the objectives of maintaining high long-term yield, year-to-year stability and full utilization of all available information on stock dynamics. It aims to maintain target F at Fpa = 0.35 and to keep the between year TAC change to within +/- 15%, unless SSB falls below Bpa when the management targets should change. The highest long-term yield was obtained for an exploitation level of 0.32, i.e. a little below the target F used in the HCR (Fpa), and ICES recommended using a lower value in the HCR. However, Norwegian authorities implemented the management strategy with a target F at Fpa = 0.35. This implies a TAC of 204 000 t in 2010 if a lower exploitation level still not is used.
In the Norwegian fishery, which at present accounts for more than 90 % of the landings, various gears are used, while other nations mainly use bottom trawl. On average over the last ten years about 40 % of the Norwegian catch originates from bottom trawl, 25 % from purse seine, 20 % from gillnet and 15 % from other conventional gears (long line, Danish seine and hand line). The gillnet fishery is most intense during winter, purse seine in the summer months while the trawl fishery takes place more evenly all year around.