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Anglerfish (Lophius spp) in Nordic waters

image of Anglerfish (Lophius spp) in Nordic waters

The demand for anglerfish for human consumption has increased in the last couple of decades because of the delicate consistency of its meat. Accordingly, the fishing pressure has increased considerably in all Nordic fishing regions. Relatively little has, however, hitherto been known about anglerfish biology and ecology. Assessment and management of Nordic anglerfish stocks is difficult to conduct due to the paucity of fisheries and biological data. Answers to questions regarding the spawning behaviour, migratory behaviour and juvenile drift, as well as more knowledge about growth, sexual maturation, diet and natural mortality, would thus form crucial contributions to present and future management of Nordic anglerfish stocks. This report presents a review of the status of current knowledge and research on the biology, ecology, fisheries and stock management of anglerfish in Nordic and European countries, including results and publications from a three-year Nordic cooperative anglerfish research project (2002-2004). Preliminary attempts were made at estimating current levels of fishing mortality in the Nordic regions, and the yield and spawning stock per anglerfish recruit. Recommendations on future research are also given.

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Introduction

During the last decade trawl and gillnet fisheries targeted on anglerfish (Lophius spp.) in Nordic waters (Figure 1.1) have increased considerably in catch and effort. A general shortage of fisheries and biological data concerning anglerfish in these waters has made an appropriate stock assessment difficult to achieve. The considerable fishery that is pursued by UK (mainly Scottish) vessels in Area IV, particularly around the Shetland Isles, has been the subject of EU TAC regulations since 1998. This fishery is mainly by trawl and is also subject to regulations relating to the fishing gear i.e. minimum mesh sizes and also days-at-sea. Of the other countries in the region only Iceland has so far set a precautionary TAC. Elsewhere, regulations have mostly been limited to gear specific measures, relating to e.g. minimum gillnet mesh size, number of nets allowed per boat/setting, maximum soak time of the nets, a limited moratorium (Norway), and no directed trawl fishery (Norway).

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