Barents Sea Ecoregion – Fisheries overview
The commercial fisheries in the Barents Sea Ecoregion target few stocks. The largest pelagic fishery targets capelin (cap.27.1-2) using midwater trawl. The largest demersal fisheries target cod (cod.27.1-2), haddock (had.27.1-2), and other gadoids; predominantly using trawls, gillnets, longlines, and handlines. The crustacean fisheries target deep-sea prawn, red king crab, and snow crab. Harp seals and minke whales are also hunted in the region.
Twelve nations currently have fisheries targeting the stocks in this ecoregion. Norway and Russia have the largest fleets, and dominate the landings in the region. Total landings peaked in the mid-1970s, and have been at a lower level for the last two decades. Catches of capelin have varied, from being the largest catches in the region (by weight) at some points in time to zero catches at others. Pelagic trawling in the ecoregion tends to catch only one species at a time, whereas demersal trawling normally catches several species simultaneously.
In addition to biomass removal, ecosystem effects of fisheries include abrasion, ghost fishing, damage to benthic fauna by demersal trawling, bycatch of elasmobranchs in demersal fisheries, bycatch of seabirds in gillnet and longline fisheries, and bycatch of harbour porpoise in gillnet fisheries. Several regulatory and research efforts are in place, or are being developed, to reduce the impact of fishing on the ecosystem.
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