Results of Russian fisheries in the North Atlantic in early February 2007

February 16, 2007 15:47

In the first seven days of February 2007 the Russian catch in the North Atlantic kept on growing from 4000 tonnes in the first week of January to more than 8000 tonnes in the third and fourth weeks of January and at last to nearly 15,000 tonnes in the first week of February. The fleet's total results have been improving mostly thanks to increasing fishing efforts on the blue whiting grounds in the international waters to the west of the British Isles, favourable weather conditions on the cod grounds of the Barents Sea and on the herring grounds of the Norwegian Sea.

In February active fishery operations were conducted already in four main areas: in the Barents Sea (cod and haddock), the Norwegian Sea (herring), Rockall-Porcupine beyond the 200-mile zone of Ireland (blue whiting) and the Central Eastern Atlantic (pelagic fisheries focusing on mackerel).

The situation on the bottomfish grounds of the Barents Sea is characterized by improving fishery conditions. Mainly due to stabilization of fairly favourable weather and relocation of some of the Russian trawlers to the Norwegian EEZ. More efficient fishery of large fish (cod, haddock and saithe) with the bycatch of ocean perch, halibut and sea cats was recorded in the western part of the Norwegian EEZ on the grounds close to main spawning grounds.

The analysis of the fishing fleet location shows that in the first week of February there were up to 40 trawlers and 8 longliners operating on the bottomfish grounds. The bulk of the group (at least 80%) was working in the northwest part of the Norwegian EEZ where the average efficiency was rising from 9 to 15 tonnes per day. In the Russian EEZ and in the Grey Zone the fishermen reported catches of no more than 7 tonnes per day. As a result, the harvest of cod through the first week of February considerably increased and exceeded 2000 tonnes despite limited fishing efforts in the Barents Sea. The total catch of bottomfish species, including haddock, saithe and bycatch of other species grew to 3400 tonnes through the first week of February.

Crab

The fishery conditions on the red king grounds through in late January-early February started actively dwindling. The information coming from particular ship operators was contradictory: some skippers attributed worsening of the situation to the general decrease of the fishable stock in the Barents Sea as a result of its overexploitation, while others thought the reason behind was in comparably high water temperatures in the area of distribution of main red king crab concentrations. As compared to last year, the water temperatures started to decrease, but they had still managed to result into dispersing of the crab stock on a large area thus pushing the catch rates down. However, the main reason behind dwindling conditions could be attributed to the deteriorating quality of harvested crabs (lower meat content in crab legs). As a result, some of the shipowners began calling their crabbers back from the grounds. By the end of the first ten days of the month there were no more than 5 ships staying at sea. The total harvest of red king crab through the week remained at 120 metric tons, down from 234 tonnes in the second week of January 2007.

Scallops

The sea scallops fishery was conducted by one dedicated scalloper on the small grounds to the northeast of the Kola peninsula. The total harvest through the first seven days of Fenruary remained at more than 100 tonnes.

Herring

In the Norwegian Sea the main group of 6-8 trawlers operating on the herring grounds came from Murmansk-led North Fisheries Basin. To the west of the Lofoten Islands conditions for prespawning and actively spawning herring fishery let the fleet operate with the average rates of ca.50-70 tonnes per day. According to the information coming from the grounds, different schools of herring were harvested on different grounds and the share of large fish 300+ fluctuated at 20-40% of the harvest. Particular catches contained both spent herring the share of which reached 20-30% and prespawning fish with the bycatch of young herring reaching 20%. The total harvest of spring-spawning herring through the week amounted to ca.2000 tonnes.

Blue whiting

The blue whiting fishery in February was continued mainly in the international waters to the west of the border of the 200-mile zone of Ireland. By the end of the first week of the month the group grew to 13 ships in number, of which 80% were trawlers coming from the North Fisheries Basin. The fishery conditions were reported as favourable. The largest group of 5 large trawlers was formed by OOO Robinzon (ltd) with the daily harvest of 300-400 tonnes. The group of three RTMKS trawlers owned by Murmansk Trawl Fleet harvested more than 650 tonnes of blue whiting per day. The blue whiting fishery in the Faeroese fishing zone was conducted by 1-2 Kaliningrad-based trawlers owned by OOO Maritime Star (ltd) with the catch rates reported at 50-100 tonnes per day. The total Russian harvest of blue whiting in the waters of the Northeast Atlantic exceeded 6500 tonnes through the week.

Central Eastern Atlantic

The conditions on the pelagic grounds of the Central Eastern Atlantic (Western Sahara) remained without considerable changes. Due to smaller fishing efforts (falling to 4 large trawlers, including one trawler from Kaliningrad) Russia's total harvest dropped from 3300 tonnes during the closing week of January to 2200 tonnes through the first seven days of February. The bulk of the harvest was contributed by mackerel the share of which amounted to at least 90%.

Russian harvest in the North Atlantic from the fourth week of January to the first week of February 2007, metric tons

Species

23.01.2007-30.01.2007

01.02.2007-08.02.2007

Russia's total harvest

Murmansk-led North Fisheries Basin

Kaliningrad-led West Fisheries Basin

Russia's total harvest

Blue whiting

1887

5376

1313

6689

Cod

1425

2204

91

2295

Herring

68

1801

191

1992

Mackerel

3127

1360

602

1962

Haddock

492

663

23

686

Saithe

122

300

7

307

Sardine

18

155

0

155

Sea cat

129

136

5

141

Sea scallops

115

132

0

132

Red king crab

121

122

0

122

Halibut

73

68

1

69

Sardinella

85

63

0

63

Ocean perch

31

49

0.2

49.2

Anchovies

11

44

0

44

Ocean perch Sebastes mentella

21

41

1

42

Pilchard

6

35

0

35

Dogtooth

71

35

1

36

Horse mackerel

200

13

0

13

Cusk

4

11

0

11

Rough dab

7

4

0

4

Ling

0

1

0

1

Skates

0

0

0

0

Hake

0

0

0

0

Baltic herring

0

0

19

19

Sprat

0

0

7

7

Tuna

49

0

5

5

Other species

2

0.5

2

2.5

Total

8064

12613.5

2268.2

14881.7

In the following weeks of February the operators forecasted that the fleets would go more to the south of the Norwegian EEZ to the south off the Lofoten Islands and the Russian skippers were expecting problems connected with the bycatch of saithe. The Norwegian authorities have not yet allowed the Russian fishermen to conduct dedicated saithe fishery and the species can be harvested only as bycatch of no more 49% during cod and haddock fishery.

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