Last updated 30 September 2022

The stock of beaked redfish (Sebastes mentella) has a positive development. Recruitment to the stock was weak from 1996 to 2004, but has been clearly strengthened since then.

Beaked redfish. Photo: Tone Vollen / Institute of Marine Research

What is being monitored?

Stock of beaked redfish in the Barents Sea

The graph shows estimated size of mature and immature stock of beaked redfish in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea. Combined, these data add up to the total stock.
(Cite these data: Institute of Marine Research (2022). Stock of beaked redfish in the Barents Sea. Environmental monitoring of Svalbard and Jan Mayen (MOSJ). URL:

Details on these data

Last updated30 September 2022
Update intervalYearly
Next updateAugust 2024
Commissioning organizationMinistry of Trade, Industry and Fishery
Executive organizationInstitute of Marine Research
Contact personsGro van der Meeren


The indicator describes the size of the stock of beaked redfish, and how it changes over time. The stock is monitored by researchers from both the Norwegian Institute of Marin Research (IMR) and the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography Research (PINRO) who go on a yearly expedition to collect biological data from the commercial harvest. The stock size is estimated by using a model. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) use the data and results from the model when they assess the stock.


An improved model for estimating population size is now formally used for the first time after being approved by the ICES in 2012. A lack of coverage of the adult beaked redfish’s geographical spread in the Norwegian Sea and weaknesses in the expedition program somewhat reduces the quality of the data used in the model. It is desirable that the surveillance cruise in the Norwegian Sea again becomes an international cruise with greater coverage.

Other metadata

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has databases with stock data.

Reference level and action level

Reference level:
Corresponding to critical spawning sock level
(Blim) x e(1.645*0.2)
Precautionary spawning stock level (Bpa)= 315, 000 tonnes

Action level:
Equivalent to the lowest biomass in the time series: Critical spawning sock level (Blim) = 227, 000 tonnes

Status and trend

According to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the beaked redfish population has recovered to a sustainable reproductive level. Recruitment was weak from 1996 to 2004, but has been clearly strengthened since then.

In early 2007, the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) determined an annual quota for the fishery in international waters. The quota set for 2007 was 15,500 tonnes. The quota was then gradually reduced until 2014, when it was set to 24,000 tonnes.

In the re-establishment phase for the beaked redfish population, which lasted until 2014, it was only permitted to catch beaked redfish as an unavoidable bycatch in Norwegian sea areas. With effect from 2014 it has once again been possible to fish for this species within defined areas. For 2015 to 2017, ICES decided that the commercial fishery could take out up to 30,000 tonnes with an increase in quota, including bycatch and discard. The following years, ICES had decided significantly higher quotas as shown in the following table.

ÅrCatch outside the Norwegian economic zone (tonnes)Catch intside the Norwegian economic zone (tonnes)Quota decided by ICES (tonnes)
The table shows catches outside and inside the Norwegian economic zone compared with the quota decided by ICES.

In 2014 and 2015, catches outside the Norwegian economic zone amounted to less than 30,000 tonnes, but from 2016 there was a marked increase. Catches within and outside the Norwegian economic zone amounted to a total of 5,600 tonnes above the total permitted catch. The corresponding numbers for 2017 were a bit lower, with a total catch of 900 tonnes above the total permitted catch. Catches in 2018 were at the same level as in 2016 with 6,100 tonnes above the total permitted catch. In contrast, the catch for 2019 under quota was only 6,100 tonnes outside and 39,900 tonnes within the Norwegian economic zone. Preliminary figures for 2020 still show a deficit, but with 1,200 tonnes less than in 2019.

The recommended quota for 2021 and 2022 are 66,158 and 67,210 tonnes. This corresponds to a fish mortality of 0.06 which equates to the precautionary level, i.e. the level that should prevent the stock from being reduced so much that measures must be initiated by the fisheries to prevent further decline. The existing measures to protect fry and juvenile fish should be continued.

Causal factors

The beaked redfish population is affected both by natural conditions, such as sea temperature and the occurrence of fish that prey on beaked redfish, and by human activity such as fishing.

Cod and halibut eat small beaked redfish. Larvae and small beaked redfish fry are also found in the stomachs of herring.

The present spawning population consists almost entirely of age groups born in the late 1980s. This is due to both the weak recruitment between 1996 and 2004 and the fact that the beaked redfish only becomes sexually mature at the age of 12. In 2017, the large cohorts born after 2004 have begun to form part of the spawning population and are now visible as a secondary peak in the population structure.


The beaked redfish population is developing well, with an increase in both recruitment and the sexually mature population. The spawning stock was at its highest at 911 000 tonnes in 2007, and has since fluctuated between 800 000 and 900 000 tonnes.

An unknown quantity of beaked redfish is also being caught as bycatch in other fisheries, such as in the silversmelt and prawn fishery. The prawn fishery is therefore monitored and areas with too high a proportion of beaked redfish fry (maximum 3 fry per 10 kg of prawns) are closed.

About the monitoring

Beaked redfish are according to the Norwegian Red List of species (2021) registered as Least Concern (LC). The species is long-lived and reaches sexual maturity late. It is necessary to monitor the stock size to ensure good and sufficient knowledge in order to be able to manage the fisheries of the species since it has previously been exposed to overfishing.

Places and areas

  • Barents Sea
    The stations are intended to cover the range of the north-east Arctic beaked redfish in the Barents Sea.

Relations to other monitoring

Monitoring programme

  • Advisory group on monitoring (Overvåkningsgruppen)

International environmental agreements

Voluntary international cooperation

  • None

Related monitoring

  • None

Further reading