Ecosystem overviews

Faroes Ecoregion: Fish

​The Faroes ecoregion hosts more than 200 fish species of which around 30 are exploited commercially. Half of the stocks have a wider spatial distribution outside the ecoregion.

The Faroes demersal stocks cod, saithe, haddock, ling, and golden redfish, have increasing biomass trends and are above MSY Btrigger except the Faroe Plateau cod. Cod on the Faroe Bank was in a poor state even though the area of the Faroe Bank shallower than 200 m has been almost entirely closed to all fishing since 2008. The cod has, hovewer, recently recovered to sustainable levels.

The main pelagic fish in the ecoregion are the migratory and straddling blue whiting, mackerel, and Norwegian spring‑spawning herring. Currently the pelagic stocks biomass is above MSY Btrigger. The biomass has decreased in recent years; however, since 2022, the biomass of blue whiting has increased substantially.

The various species are connected through predator−prey relationships. Juvenile fish appear to be a central component in the foodweb of the entire Faroe Shelf ecosystem. Peaks in the abundance and growth of juvenile cod, haddock, Norway pout, and sandeel exhibit multiannual oscillations of five–eight year cycles, and these coincide with the dynamics of several other key foodweb variables.

The main forage fish are sandeel, Norway pout, juvenile blue whiting, herring, and sprat (Sprattus sprattus), all of which feed predominantly on zooplankton. Other planktivorous mesopelagic fish, such as pearlsides and myctophids, are important forage fish in the oceanic parts of the ecoregion. Benthic species on the Faroe Plateau include European plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) and lemon sole (Microstomus kitt).

​Several species display seasonal distribution patterns. For example, adult blue whiting is mostly present in the ecoregion from April to late autumn, while juveniles occur throughout the year. Similarly, mackerel and Norwegian spring‑spawning herring are mainly present during the feeding season; herring only in the northern part of the ecoregion and mackerel further south during their migration route to/from the spawning areas. Top predators such as cod, ling, and monkfish (Lophius piscatorius) exhibit intraguild predation and cannibalism.

There are no native salmon stocks in the Faroes ecoregion. Wild salmon from other regions feed in the ecoregion all year round. 

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Time-series of mean annual biomass (SSB to MSY Btrigger ratio) by fisheries guild for demersal and pelagic stocks (see the Annex for specific stocks). 

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Faroes Ecoregion: Fish

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