Last week Norwegian and Russian scientists met digitally to prepare the bilateral quota advice for capelin in the Barents Sea for 2023.
The capelin growth this year has been very low. The abundance of the 2019 year class last year was one of the highest ever estimated. But the weight and length of this year class observed this year was among the lowest in the time series going back to the early 1970s.
The annual Russian-Norwegian ecosystem survey in the Barents Sea is the most important source of information when preparing the quota advice for the capelin stock. The Norwegian zone was well covered this year and forms the basis for the advice. The stock was estimated to 2.2 million tons in the covered area.
Due to technical problems, the Russian vessel did not cover the Russian zone this year, and since the amount of capelin in Russian zone was unknown, the basis for the advice includes an area compensation. The capelin distribution from years with similar amounts of maturing capelin and age composition was used to compensate. The lack of coverage leads to higher uncertainty in the estimates and prediction. This is reflected in the advice of a quota up to 62 000 tons of capelin for 2023. An alternative approach predicting the capelin population 1.5 years ahead in time based on the 2021 survey estimate was also tried. This approach gave similar results as the area compensation method.
This week Russia and Norway meets in the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission and final quota for capelin in the Barens Sea for 2023 will be decided there.