Decline in all inshore halibut stocks in North Greenland

Recently, the inshore stocks of Greenland halibut in Disko Bay, Uummannaq and Upernavik have all reached a lower level than before. For 2019 the biological advice for the Greenland halibut fishery is 5,120 tonnes for Disko Bay, 5,800 tonnes for Uummannaq and 5,330 tonnes for Upernavik. This is a decline in all areas.

For Disko Bay, both the biological studies with trawl and net as well as data from the fisheries show that the stock has decline. At the same time, data show that, over the past 10 years, the caught halibut has become consistently smaller and there are fewer large fish. More specifically, it means that, to get the same amount in weight of fish today, you need to catch twice as many halibut fish compared to 10 years ago. In other words, many more halibuts are taken out of the stock, and, as a result, the pressure on the stock has increased.

Consequently, the NAFO Scientific Council estimates that the halibut fishery in Disko Bay should not exceed 5,120 tonnes in 2019. The fishery in 2016 amounted to 10,760 tonnes, but decreased in 2017 to 6,406 tonnes, although the quota was 9,200 tonnes.

For Uummannaq and Upernaviks, the NAFO Scientific Council assesses that the stocks in both areas are showing the first signs of decline. The Council therefore advises a reduction in catches. Fishermen's logbooks from 2014 show that it has become more difficult (decline in catch rate) to catch halibut in both areas. At the same time, there is also a decrease in the size of the caught halibut compared to previous years. The advice for Uummannaq in 2019 is therefore 5,800 tonnes, which is 700 tonnes lower than the current advice and 3,900 tonnes lower than the catch in 2016 and 2017. The advice for Upernavik in 2019 is 5,330 tonnes, which is 970 tonnes lower than the previous advice and 1,700 tonnes lower than the catch in 2016 and 2017.

Offshore West Greenland as well as East Greenland, the halibut stocks are improving, and NAFO has therefore increased the advice for these. The advice for offshore halibut fishery in West Greenland is increased by 4,070 tonnes to 36,370 tonnes (which is to be shared between Canada and Greenland), while the advice on East Greenland halibut is increased by 150 tonnes to 24,150 tonnes.

See the advice here.

For more information, please contact:

Head of Department for Fish and Shellfish, Helle Siegstad, tel: +299 361200 or email:



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