Arctic Fisheries Working Group (AFWG)
Assessments run at AFWG provide the scientific basis for the management of cod, haddock, saith, redfish, Greenland halibut and capelin in subareas 1 and 2. Taking the catch values provided by the Norwegian fisheries ministry for Norwegian catches (https://fiskeridir. no/Yrkesfiske/Statistikk-yrkesfiske/Statistiske-publikasjoner/Noekkeltall-for-de-norskefiskeriene) and raising the total landed value to the total catches gives an approximate nominal first-hand landed value for the combined AFWG stocks of ca. 20 billion NOK in 2018 (ca. 2 billion EUR). At AFWG 2019 a revision to the NEA cod model was proposed, involving changing the assumed variance-at-age structure of the SAM model in light of the increasing numbers of older fish. This was reviewed at a rapid inter-benchmark IBPNEACod and presented to the Advice Drafting Group (ADGANW 2019). The proposed change was rejected as lacking sufficient rationale for the details of way the variance structure was changed. However, the reviewers did accept the need for a change in the model to account for the changing age structure, and AFWG is therefore proposing this stock for a benchmark in 2021 to deal with the issue in a more thorough and considered manner. Haddock is currently working towards a benchmark in early 2020, and there are no other planned benchmarks in AFWG. However, given issues relating to the increasing age range of NEA cod and the lack of HCR for Greenland halibut, AFWG strongly recommends a benchmark for NEA cod in 2021 ready for AFWG 2021, followed by a benchmark and subsequent MSE for Greenland halibut in 2022 ready for the Green-land halibut assessment in 2023. Furthermore, the failure of the management plan for coastal cod indicates the need for a revised management plan, and scientific work to support this. A tentative target date of a benchmark in 2021 (with the NEA cod is proposed), although it is not yet clear if this is feasible. There is ongoing discussion about conducting a benchmark for capelin, but no firm conclusions.