Higher than expected cod quota cut advised for the Barents Sea

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Fish and chip shops are being warned of “an uncomfortable year ahead” for fish prices following the recommendation by marine scientists to cut the Barents Sea cod quota by over 30% in 2025. 

The Joint Norwegian-Russian Fishery Commission has recommended a 31% reduction in the Barents Sea cod quota for 2025, taking it down to just 311,587 tonnes. 

This follows three consecutive years where the cod quota has been reduced by 20%, making 2025 the lowest total allowable catch in more than two decades. 

The recommendation to cut the quota is connected to the fact that the spawning stock for cod has been reduced every year since the historic peak in 2013 and not a result of overfishing.

Scientists have also recommended a 24% reduction to the haddock quota, taking it down to 106,912 tonnes. This is 16% less than the quota recommended for 2024.

The final decision will not be determined until the autumn, when the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission meets for negotiations. However, if past patterns are any indication, it is generally the case that the Commission will agree with the scientists.

Bobby Joyce, sales & marketing director at Hull-based frozen at sea fish supplier Smales, says whilst not unexpected, the recommended quota reduction is higher than most people estimated. 

He comments: “Once the final number has been negotiated it will mean the lowest Barents Sea quota level in decades. Inevitably this will mean demand outstrips supply and that always leads to increased prices. So far this year a higher quota in Icelandic and Greenlandic waters plus a 20% fall in seafood demand globally has helped keep prices stable and increases have been slow and steady rather than spiking, but as demand in other markets is now improving that could mean an uncomfortable year ahead.”

The optimistic news is that there is strong expectation that the Barents Sea quotas will start to increase again from 2026 due to the careful way the fishery is managed.

Bobby adds: “The UK remains a strong market for all the quota holding nations and they are extremely proud that their fillets make up one half of the UK’s most iconic dish, so we will work closely with them to try and keep supplies as plentiful as possible and the price at a level where all businesses in the chain remain viable. 

“Any fish friers who have questions or need advice on fish supply are always welcome to give our team – who have over 500 years combined experience in the industry – a call to discuss the outlook.”

Martin Skaug, director of communication at Norwegian Seafood Council, emphasises the need for the reduction, adding: The UK is a key market for Norwegian whitefish and the Norwegian seafood industry is proud to be supplying high quality cod and haddock across retail and hospitality and in particular the iconic fish & chip industry, now and in the future. Though demanding from a trade and industry perspective it is vital that the stocks are sustainably managed so that they can reproduce and continue to be an important resource for years to come. This is sustainable governance in practice, underlining Norway’s longstanding commitment to managing its marine resources.”

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