Barents Sea cod stocks on the rise
Barents Sea cod is on the verge of a “golden age,” according to scientist Bjarte Bogstad of Norway’s Institute of Marine Research.
The cyclical Barents Sea cod population has increased significantly in the past few years, said Bogstad last week. The population of cod age 3 and older dropped from 4 million metric tons in the mid-1940s to a historic low of 1 million metric tons in the 1980s. By 1993, it rebounded to 2.4 million metric tons but fell again to 1.1 million metric tons in 2000.
Now the Barents Sea cod population is now estimated at about 2.5 million tons, said Bogstad, and the recommended quota for 2010 is 577,500 metric tons, the highest for more than a decade.
Bogstad attributed the recent population increase to more restrictive quotas as a result of a stronger fishery management plan enacted in 2004, and tighter port controls implemented in 2007 are reducing unreported catches, which were a considerable problem.
Additionally, favorable ocean conditions have also contributed to the population growth, as cod is benefiting from higher water temperatures and a better food supply.
Bogstad warned that the Barents Sea cod population may not continue to increase.
“In the coming years we expect first a slight further increase, followed by a leveling off and some decrease, but the cod stock will continue to be at a high level,” explained Bogstad.