Bilaterally and by digital means, this is how Norway and Russia have negotiated their fisheries agreement for 2024. Despite the fact that the total Northeast Arctic cod quota for next year decreases by 20% compared to the 2023 quota, the Nordic country is satisfied with the results that guarantee a total quota of 196,000 tons of capelin, as well as 141,000 tons of haddock, a figure somewhat higher than what was implied by the management rule, and 70,164 tons of redfish.
The Norwegian-Russian is Norway's largest and most important bilateral fisheries agreement, which recognizes the extraordinary circumstances, but has exempted fisheries cooperation from its sanctions against Russia.
As was the case with the recent agreement on the Northeast Atlantic mackerel quota for 2024, Norway is used to negotiating its fishing quotas within the framework of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). However, since the participation of Russian scientists in ICES working groups is temporarily suspended, quota recommendations for 2024 for the stocks the country manages together with Russia have been prepared in a bilateral working group.
Comprised of experts from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research (IMR) and the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO), the bilateral working group has followed the methodology and framework used by ICES for stock assessment and advice.
"It is good that we have entered into a fisheries agreement with Russia, despite the fact that this year we are also in an extraordinary situation," said the new Fisheries and Oceans Minister of Norway, Cecilie Myrseth. "The agreement ensures long-term and sustainable marine management in the northern areas, and is fundamental for us to be able to take care of the cod population and the other species in the Barents Sea," she added.
As mentioned, the total Northeast Arctic cod quota - which is distributed among Norway, Russia, and third countries according to the same pattern as in previous years - is one of the most affected by the 2024 fishing agreement, decreasing by 20% compared to this year's. According to the management rule, it was set at a total of 453,427 tons, of which 212,124 tons correspond to Norway.
The total blue halibut quota also decreases, which for 2024 is set at 21,250 tons, a decrease of 3,750 tons. Norway is allocated 10,823 tons of the total amount. On the other hand, haddock, redfish, and, above all, capelin are on the rise.
As far as haddock is concerned, the total quota for next year was set at 141,000 tons, somewhat higher than the management rule. Of this, 70,605 tons are for Norway. The total redfish catch quota for 2024 will be 70,164 tons, an increase of 3,385 tons over last year. Norway will keep 48,518 tons.
The agreement also includes further work on the management rules for shrimp, turbot, halibut, and capelin. Precisely for the latter, a total quota of 196,000 tons has been set for 2024. The figure, in line with the management rule, represents an increase of 134,000 tons over 2023 and is the highest quota since 2018. The Norwegian quota for capelin amounts to 117,550 tons.
"It is particularly gratifying that we have received such a high capelin quota of 196,000 tonnes. This is the highest capelin quota since 2018," highlighted Minister Myrseth. "We are also satisfied that there was such a large reduction in the blue halibut quota, from 25,000 tonnes to 21,250 tonnes. There is uncertainty about the situation for this stock, and it is important that the parties show responsibility and reduce the quota," she continued.
These are not the only species highlighted by the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. "There is also reason to highlight the redfish stock, which is still growing and has reached a level where it has become an important resource for the Norwegian fishing industry," Myrseth added.
In addition to quotas, this bilateral fisheries agreement also contains technical rules for fishing practice, control measures, and research collaboration. There is a long-standing and extensive research collaboration between Norway and Russia on the living marine resources and ecosystem of the Barents Sea, and the parties agreed on a joint Norwegian-Russian research program by 2024.