Ecosystem overviews

Oceanic Northeast Atlantic Ecosystem Overview

State of the ecosystem: Fish

​​Spawning-stock biomass of blue whiting has increased since 2010 and is currently is above MSY Btrigger. Recruitment in 2017 was estimated to be low, following a period of high recruitments.

The two stocks (“deep pelagic" and “shallow pelagic") of the beaked redfish in the Irminger Sea both have declining spawning‑stock biomass, and they are currently at levels below the limit reference points. ICES advises zero TACs.

A range of deep-sea species have been fished in this ecoregion since the early 1970s, but ICES cannot provide quantitative stock sizes for species other than deep-pelagic redfish. There are many species of deep-water shark in the ecoregion, some of which (e.g. Portuguese dogfish (Centroscymnus coelolepis) and leaf-scale gulper shark (Centrophorus squamosus)) are considered severely depleted.

Spawning‑stock biomasses of bluefin tuna and swordfish (Xiphias gladius) have increased in recent years, and neither are considered to be overfished.

Among the pelagic shark species occurring in the ecoregion, three are considered more significant and vulnerable to fishing: blue shark ​(Prionace glauca), shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus), and porbeagle (Lamna nasus). Porbeagle is considered to be severely depleted. Blue shark and mako are considered fully exploited or overfished.

European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is not fished in the ecoregion, but adult eels migrate through it and pelagic larvae transit the area during the drift phase between southwest Atlantic reproduction areas and the European continent. ICES concluded that the status of eel remains critical, and advises strict regulations wherever eel is fished or otherwise affected by human activity. Recruitment is poor, but it is unknown to what extent processes in oceanic waters influence recruitment rates.

​The salmon fisheries in the ecoregion are very minor, and the now relatively small oceanic catches are taken within EEZs or in the ABNJ in more northerly waters. Continued low abundance of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) combined with low return rates to river systems indicate poor survival in the marine environment, and suggest that factors acting on survival at sea (in the first and in some cases second years) at both local and broad ocean scales are constraining abundance of salmon.​​​

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Oceanic Northeast Atlantic Ecosystem Overview

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