Reference points for optimal fish stock management : A lesson to be learned from the Northeast Arctic cod stock
In the North Atlantic the Icelandic, the North Sea, and the Newfoundland cod stocks are currently overexploited. Overexploitation also characterised the Northeast Arctic cod stock, but effective management measures introduced in 1990 and the years thereafter have brought this stock within safe biological limits. The Northeast Arctic cod stock is transboundary and shared between Norway and Russia. As guidelines for a sound management strategy of this cod stock in the future, reference points for management are discussed. As a point of departure, a management strategy which fulfils the objectives for fishery policy stated by Norway is analysed. These objectives, focusing on sustainable harvesting, increased profitability and the role of the fishery as employer of labour in rural districts are fundamental in most of the world's fishery nations. The "optimal" strategy is defined as the one which fulfils these in the best way possible. The natural variations are discussed and the biological and economic yield's dependence upon the rate of exploitation are analysed. The analysis shows that the size of the spawning stock should be no less than 500 000 tonnes and that highest yield is obtained through a rate of exploitation of around 17-30% (equivalent to a fishing mortality of about 0.20-0.40). A spawning stock size of 500 000 tonnes should therefore serve as a "limit reference point" and a fishing mortality of about 0.20-0.40 should serve as a "target reference point" in the management of Northeast Arctic cod. The method described may be applied to other demersal stocks to help establish target and limit reference points in order to conduct a sound management.
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