Journal Article

Evaluation of the exploitation of Eastern Baltic cod (<i>Gadus morhua callarias</i> L.) stock in 1976–1997

Krzysztof Radtke

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 5, pages 1114-1122
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1054-3139(03)00094-8
Evaluation of the exploitation of Eastern Baltic cod (Gadus morhua callarias L.) stock in 1976–1997

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Big changes occurred in the Eastern Baltic cod biomass and catches in the 1976–1997 period. At present, the Eastern Baltic cod stock spawning biomass (SSB) and catches are approximately five times lower than their highest ever recorded levels observed in the middle of the 1980s. The reasons for the stock decline, namely low recruitment and high fishing mortality, are widely known and well described in the literature. Throughout the whole period, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) made scientific recommendations regarding the exploitation level of the cod stock. The ICES presented and analysed different management strategies based on fishing mortalities which corresponded to biological reference points (BRP) and also recommended total allowable catches (TACs) for cod, taking into account the sustainability of cod resources. In fact, in most years the TAC established by the International Baltic Sea Fisheries Commission (IBSFC) and cod catches (observed exploitation) exceeded the ICES-recommended TAC and thus their scientific advice was neither taken into account by the IBSFC nor by fishermen.

This paper evaluates: (1) the would-be state of the Eastern Baltic cod stock if it had been exploited according to ICES-recommended TAC levels, as compared with observed stock exploitation; and (2) the potential effects of management using fishing mortality rates which correspond to BRP on SSB estimates and catch levels, as compared with observed stock exploitation.

It is concluded that if ICES advice had been followed, the cumulative cod catches in the 1976–1997 period would have been the same as those observed, but the stock biomass would have been much higher and at a safe level (SSB above 240 000 t).

Furthermore, from the comparative analysis of different management strategies based on BRP and the observed strategy, it appears that other management strategies could have been applied which would have produced a higher biomass and greater cumulative catch numbers than those observed.

Keywords: biological reference points; Eastern Baltic cod; International Baltic Sea Fisheries Commission; International Council for the Exploration of the Sea; total allowable catches

Journal Article.  4924 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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