Russian fisheries in North Atlantic and Central Eastern Atlantic in May 2008

June 10, 2008 16:15

According to provisional figures, in May 2008 the total harvest of Russian vessels in the North Atlantic and Central Eastern Atlantic amounted to ca.86,400 tonnes, thus displaying an increase by 4200 tonnes on the result of the previous month. Kaliningrad-based fleets contributed less than 20% to Russia's total harvest in the area, fishery sources in Murmansk, with reference to provisional figures as per mid-May 2008, told www.fishnet-russia.com (https://www.fishnet.ru/).

The catch rise could be attributed to a considerable rise of bottomfish catches in the Barents Sea and beginning fishery of ocean perch Sebastes mentella in the Irminger Sea. In the meantime, due to a decrease of the fishing efforts the results of Russia's fishery of blue whiting in the Faroese fishing zone in May 2008 appeared to be much below on the corresponding results of April 2008 when the fishery was conducted in the international waters to the west of the British Isles (minus 15,900 tonnes). In May the fishing fleet was located mostly in four areas, namely in the Barents Sea targeting bottom fish species, the Faroese fishing zone (blue whiting), the Irminger Sea (ocean perch Sebastes mentella) and in the Central Eastern Atlantic (mackerel and horse mackerel).

Barents Sea

Despite difficult weather conditions in the southern part of the Barents Sea the fishing conditions were fairly favourable, thus enabling the fishermen to increase their catches of cod up by as much as 10,900 tonnes to 29,800 tonnes and haddock by 4500 tonnes to 8000 tonnes. The bulk of the fishing fleet worked in the Grey Zone and in the southwest part of the Russian EEZ, while the second group operated in the waters of Spitsbergen to the west of the Bear Island. According to the distribution of the fishing efforts, the harvest of cod amounted to ca.50% in the south part of the sea and 40% of the total harvest in the sea's northwest. In the Norwegian zone the Russian fishermen harvested less than 10% of cod as in the course of the month the fleet was actively moving to more northern and eastern grounds thus causing a decrease of saithe landings. The bulk of haddock (55%) was harvested in the Russian waters and in the Bear Spitsbergen area (30%). The total harvest of bottomfish in the Barents Sea amounted to 39,800 tonnes with the share of cod accounting for 75%.

Norwegian Sea

In the course of May the blue whiting fishery was conducted in the Faroese fishing zone. Since the second half of the month the fishing efforts reached 15-20 in number, including up to 11 trawlers based in Kaliningrad. In the course of the month the fleet together with the migrating fish moved northwards from the southern border of the Faroese fishing zone to the northwest border. In the period of active migration the fish schools were less strong which, in combination with larger time expenses for landing in Torshaven, resulted into a considerable decrease of blue whiting catches to 31,200 tonnes, 15,900 tonnes down. The share of fish harvested by the vessels of Kaliningrad-led West Fisheries Basin amounted to ca.35%. The bycatch of herring in the blue whiting fishery was small and did not exceed 100 tonnes. A group of the Russian and Faroe specialists studied influence of selective grids on the blue whiting fishery (at the 31st session of the Mixed Russian Faroe Fisheries Commission in November 2007 the Faroe side confirmed compulsory use of selective grids of the Russian fishermen targeting blue whiting in the Faroese fishing zone).

Irminger Sea

The fishery of ocean perch Sebastes mentella in the Sea of Irminger (the international waters of the North East Atlantic in the waters of the NEAFC) in May was conducted on the traditional grounds along the south border of the Icelandic fishing zone. The Russian expedition consisted of up to 15-25 large trawlers, including up to 18 ships based in Kaliningrad. The fishery conditions were reported as fairly stable with the daily catch rates amounting to 15 tonnes per TSM ship on the average. The ship operators say that the bulk of ocean perch was distributed at the depths of 600-850 meters. Taking into account the deepsea distribution of ocean perch and dispersed condition of concentrations, the ships did up to 2-3 lengthy tows. The schools slowly moved northwest along the border of the Icelandic waters. By the end of May the vessels were mostly located already to the west of the 29th degree West. The total harvest of ocean perch was estimated at 6300 tonnes through the month, with the landings of the vessels coming from Kaliningrad-led West Fisheries Basin growing to 60% thanks to larger fishing efforts.

Central Eastern Atlantic

In the waters of Mauritania and Western Sahara a small group of up to 5 large trawlers mostly coming from Murmansk-led North Fisheries Basin were targeting pelagic species. The total harvest in the area amounted to 8800 tonnes (2300 tonnes up on the previous month). The share of the vessels coming from Kaliningrad amounted to less than 15%. The bulk of catches was contributed by horse mackerel (45%), mackerel (25%) and sardinella (20%).

Provisional catch figures for the North Atlantic and the Central Eastern Atlantic in April 2008

Species

May 2008, ‘000 metric tons

April 2008, +/- ‘000 metric tons

May 2008 versus April 2008, +/- ‘000 metric tons

Kaliningrad-led West Fisheries Basin

Murmansk-led North Fisheries Basin

Total harvest

Barents Sea

Cod

0.1

29.7

29.8

18.9

10.9

Haddock

0.0

8.0

8.0

3.5

4.5

Saithe

0.0

0.5

0.5

3.3

-2.8

Halibut

0.0

0.6

0.6

0.7

-0.1

Sea cats

0.0

0.6

0.6

0.8

-0.2

Flounders

0.0

0.1

0.1

0.2

-0.1

Shrimp

0.0

0.1

0.1

0.0

0.1

Ocean perch

0.0

0.2

0.2

0.6

-0.4

Total

0.1

39.8

39.9

28.0

11.9

Norwegian Sea

Blue whiting

10.6

20.6

31.2

47.1

-15.9

Herring

0.1

0.0

0.1

0.0

0.1

Total

10.7

20.6

31.3

47.1

-15.8

Irminger Sea, Eastern Greenland, Northwest Atlantic (NAFO zone)

Ocean perch Sebastes mentella

3.8

2.5

6.3

0

6.3

Greenland halibut

0.0

0.1

0.1

0.6

-0.5

Total

3.8

2.6

6.4

0.6

5.8

Central Eastern Atlantic

Mackerel

0.1

2.2

2.3

1.9

0.4

Horse mackerel

0.8

3.1

3.9

1.3

2.6

Sardinella

0.0

1.8

1.8

1.6

0.2

Sardine

0.0

0.6

0.6

1.5

-0.9

Anchovy

0.1

0.1

0.2

0.2

0.0

Total

1.0

7.8

8.8

6.5

2.3

Grand total in the North Atlantic and in the Central Eastern Atlantic

15.6

70.8

86.4

82.2

4.2

Note: The sides have agreed that Special Group of fishing gear specialists will continue working in 2008 and it will consider the issues concerning the use of the selective grids on the blue whiting grounds in the Faroese fishing zone by the Russian and the Faroese fishing vessels. According to the mandate of the Special Group, in May 2008 they conducted a research of the use of the selective grids. Under the research program the specialists evaluated efficiency of various selective grids depending on the vessel and trawl types, the rate of blue whiting mortality resulting from the use of the selective grids with respect to various fish schools, the efficiency of saithe sorting, etc. The main goal for the Group is to study the need to use selective grids and give their recommendations to the Commission. According to the provisional information, on the grounds with strong concentrations the selective grids caused a 20-40% decrease of blue whiting catches, just like it was earlier reported by the Russian fishermen. At the same time, in May 2008 on the grounds of the Russian fishermen's operations saithe was practically never seen. Obviously, similar research operations will continue in 2009 as well.

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