Possible development of the stocks

Herring / Clupea harengus. Photo: Fredrik Broms, Norwegian Polar Institute

Expected changes 2019
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Most of the commercial fish stocks found in the Barents Sea stocks are at or above the long-term level. The exceptions are polar cod and Sebastes norvegicus. In addition, the abundance of blue whiting in the Barents Sea is at present very low, but for this stock only a minor part of the younger age groups and negligible parts of the mature stock are found in the Barents Sea.

Concerning shellfish, the shrimp abundance is relatively stable and above the long-term meanwhile, the abundance and distribution area of snow crab is increasing.

Based on the current abundance and age structure of the main commercial stocks, the following lines of development are possible:

A new haddock outburst may take place, as the 2016 and 2017 year classes so far seem to be of the same order of magnitude as the strong 2004–2006 year classes.

The abundance of young herring is currently the highest since 2005, and this may affect the capelin recruitment in 2018–2019 negatively.

The westward expansion of snow crab leads to higher overlap between cod and snow crab and thus predation by cod on snow crab may slow down the rate of increase of the snow crab stock.
If the sea temperature increases further, this may allow further north and eastwards expansion of several stocks, while e.g. cod has almost reached it maximal distribution and polar cod will be negatively affected by other species moving into typical polar cod areas.