More Cod, Haddock, and Herring in 2023-2024 Fishing Season

coastal fishing boat

Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) has released advice on fishing opportunities for over 20 fish and invertebrate stocks in Icelandic waters for the 2023-2024 year. The recommendations include a 1% increase in the total allowable catch for cod, a 23% increase for haddock, and a 40% increase for herring, three key species for the Icelandic fishing industry. Fishing quotas issued by authorities are based on the MFRI’s recommendations.

More cod, haddock, and herring

The advised TAC (total allowable catch) for cod has been increased as there is a higher estimate of the reference biomass compared to the previous year. That mass is also expected to increase slightly in the next two or three years when the 2019 and 2020 cohorts of cod will be counted as adult fish. Those cohorts are estimated to be above average in terms of size. The 2023-2024 TAC for haddock will be 76,415 tonnes, a 23% increase from the previous year’s allowable catch, as the 2019-2021 cohorts are above average.

The stock size of the Icelandic summer spawning herring has increased following a period of constant decline between 2008 and 2019. Therefore, the advice for the 2023-2024 fishing year is 92,634 tonnes or a 40% increase from the previous fishing year’s TAC. Golden redfish advice represents a 62% increase from the previous year, but as recruitment in the species has been low, the advice is likely to decrease sharply in the coming years.

Less saithe and scallop and no beaked redfish

Recommendations for some fish and invertebrates have decreased compared to the previous fishing year, however. The advice for saithe, an important species for coastal fishermen, has been decreased by 7%. The total allowable catch for Iceland scallop has decreased by 19%, and the MFRI advises that no catch should be taken for demersal beaked redfish in the 2023-2024 year, as the stock is now estimated to be below the limit reference point for spawning stock biomass. It is not expect to recover in the near future.

The recommendations can be seen in full on the MFRI website.

Less Cod, More Haddock To Be Fished Next Year

fish fishing haddock

The Icelandic Marine and Freshwater Research Institute has suggested a 6% decrease in cod catch quotas for the next fishing season. A notice from the Institute states that the decline is due to a lower estimate of the reference biomass compared to previous years and the effect of the catch stabiliser in the harvest control rule.

The Institute is hopeful for cod in Icelandic waters, stating: “The reference biomass of cod is expected to increase slightly in the next two to three years when the 2019 and 2020 cohorts enter the reference biomass as they are estimated to be above average in terms of size.”

Meanwhile, suggested catch quotas for haddock increase to 62,219 tonnes, up 23% from last year.

MFRI Director Þorsteinn Sigurðsson stated in an introductory meeting that several fish stocks, including tusk, ling, blue ling, beaked redfish, anglerfish, witch, megrim, and langoustine, have been experiencing poor recruitment in the past few years, Fiskifréttir report. These fish stay in the warmer waters to the south and west coast of Iceland. “Unfortunately, there seems to be little change for the better. The reasons for this negative development are unknown, but the most likely explanation is that it’s due to changes in Iceland’s marine environment.”

Ninety Percent of Iceland’s Animals Will Disappear Within 50 Years

Around 90% of animal species that call Iceland and the surrounding waters home will disappear in the next 50 years due to climate change, Vísir reports. While some will move further north or south, others will die out.

According to a recent report by leading scientists carried out for the United Nations, the world’s ecosystems are declining at an alarming rate, putting around one million species at risk of extinction. Iceland is no exception to this gloomy outlook, which scientists say can improve if large changes are implemented.

Director of Icelandic environmental research and consulting company RORUM says the report’s estimate is conservative. “There will be tremendous changes over the coming decades and I think that no one can imagine them. Maybe no one wants to imagine them,” says Þorleifur Eiríksson, who is also a zoologist.

Iceland already seeing changes

Þorleifur says climate change will have a huge impact on animals living in Iceland or in the surrounding ocean. Warming seas are already causing some local animal populations to plummet in numbers or move to other regions. “The thick-billed murre is disappearing and will go north. The guillemot will probably do that soon as well. The puffin population has as we know absolutely plummeted because the sandeel has disappeared,” he stated.

Some of the effects of climate change, such as ocean acidification, may become apparent in Iceland before other places. Ocean acidification is expected to cause shellfish populations to decline dramatically around the country, affecting fish stocks that are crucial to the Icelandic economy.

“It’s not just that these species disappear,” Þorleifur explains. “They are a natural part of a very complex food chain. Haddock, for example, feeds mostly on shellfish, there will probably be a huge drop in those stocks and then just a chain reaction.”