Barents Sea cod fishery facing steep quota cut, Russia considering pollock quota cut

A pile of Barents Sea cod on a table
The quota for Barents Sea cod should be cut by 31 percent, per the Norwegian-Russian Joint Fishery Commission | Photo courtesy of the Norway Institute of Marine Research/Erlend Astad Lorentzen
4 Min

Two of the largest whitefish fisheries in the world are facing quota cuts in 2025.

The Norway Institute of Marine Research announced a Norwegian-Russian joint research group concerning fish stocks in the Barents Sea has identified the need to decrease the quota available for Barents Sea cod. The Norwegian-Russian Joint Fishery Commission recommends that no more than 311,587 metric tons (MT) of cod be fished in the Barents Sea in 2025 – which would mark a cut of 31 percent. 

That proposed cut is just the latest in an ongoing trend, as Norway and Russia agreed to cut fishing by 20 percent in 2024 and set a quota of 453,427 MT. That cut was itself a decrease from the previous year and represented the third straight year of 20 percent cuts; the Barents Sea cod quota was 885,600 MT in 2021.  

The latest recommended quota of 311,587 MT is the lowest since 2003, according to Norway Institute of Marine Research researcher Bjarte Bogstad.

“If the catches are equal to the advice, it will be the lowest catch since 1991,” Bogstad said.

Typically, according to Bogstad, the quota recommendation is only allowed to drop by 20 percent in a given year, but if the spawning population is expected to drop below a “precautionary” level, that limit is removed. 

The reason for the decrease, the institute said, is poor recruitment in the cod stock. The institute explained that since a historic peak in 2013, the spawning stock for cod had reduced each year, and certain classes of cod did worse than others. 

“There has been poor recruitment for several years, but the weakest year classes are 2019 and 2020,” Bogstad said.”

Those year classes will be five years old in 2025 – making them the prime target of Barents Sea Cod fishing – and the weakness of the year class is forcing the quota cut.

The Norwegian-Russian Joint Fishery Commission’s decision came just days before the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency (Rosrybolovstvo) announced it is “considering the possibility” of cutting the quota of pollock in 2025.

According to Rosrybolovstvo head Ilya Shestakov, proposals for a decrease were raised by multiple associations involved in the pollock fishery – the Association of Fishing Fleet Shipowners (ASFF), the All-Russian Association of Fisheries Enterprises, Entrepreneurs and Exporters (VARPE), and the Association of Pollock Harvesters (ADM). 

The TAC for pollock in 2024 was 2.285 million MT, which was an increase over the 2.06 million MT quota for 2023.

A recent meeting between Shestakov and members of the industry discussed ...

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