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Cod stocks have reached record numbers, researchers stated. (Photo: IMR/FIS)

Cod makes remarkable comeback in Barents Sea

Click on the flag for more information about Norway NORWAY
Friday, October 14, 2011, 04:10 (GMT + 9)

The Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission this week agreed on higher quotas for the fishing of cod, haddock, capelin and Greenland halibut in the Barents Sea. Cod stocks have been found to have replenished themselves remarkably and have reached record numbers, which researchers are attributing to climate change.

Quotas were increased by 8 per cent for Northeast Arctic cod and now stand at 751,000 tonnes for 2012, whereas the quota for Northeast Arctic haddock was raised by 5 per cent to 318,000 tonnes.

Researchers Bjarte Bogstad and Harald Gjøsæter, who just ended this year’s wide-ranging marine survey while working with Russian colleagues, said they had never before seen such massive amounts of cod so far north in the Barents Sea, Barents Observer reports.

Their research vessel Johan Hjort arrived at the port in Kirkenes last week. Three Norwegian vessels operated by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research and the Russian research vessel Vilnius operated by the Russian Marine Institute Pinro painstakingly studied the Barents Sea from every corner.

The researchers were surprised to find Northeast Atlantic cod as far north as 82 degrees.

North Sea haddock. (Photo: IMR)

“We have been sailing the waters east of Svalbard, and also there we found large amounts of cod far more north than normal,” Gjøsæter stated.

This fall’s Northeast Atlantic cod stock was found to be more widespread than ever before. Researchers even identified large amounts of cod in the north eastern Barents Sea close to Novaya Zemlya.

“The cod has got a larger ‘grazing ground’ than seen before and as a result the stock is large,” Gjøsæter specified.

An increase of cod numbers in the north is linked to a record high stock of capelin in the northern Barents Sea together with higher sea temperatures.

“Sea temperature this autumn is considerable colder than last summer, but still way higher than the average over the last 40 years,” he noted.

South east of Svalbard, water temperatures usually stood at -0,5 degree Celsius at water depths between 50-200 m this autumn, versus a -0,7 degree Celsius average during the last 40 years.

“Water temperatures are high enough for the cod to feel comfortable all around the northern part of the Barents Sea,” Gjøsæter figured.

The researchers aboard Johan Hjort have also been analyzing the reach of capelin. They said that they had never before detected so much capelin in the areas between Svalbard and Franz Josef’s Land as they did this autumn.

By Natalia Real


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