Review of the research knowledge and gaps on fish populations, fisheries and linked ecosystems in the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO)

Hauke.Flores [ at ]


This report presents a review of the research knowledge and gaps on fish populations, fisheries and linked ecosystems in the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO). The CAO comprises the deep basins of the Arctic Ocean beyond the shelf break, which largely overlap with the High Seas of the Arctic Ocean, i.e. the marine areas outside the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of the Arctic coastal nations. The authors of the report are members of the European Fisheries Inventory in the Central Arctic Ocean (EFICA) Consortium. This study was funded by the European Commission as an EU contribution to the international cooperation within the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean. The report contains desk-based research, using scientific research data bases as well as any available research performed by the EFICA Consortium partners and EU institutions or others. In Chapters 2-8 the authors review the literature and identify specific knowledge gaps. The gap analyses involve comparisons of actual knowledge with desired knowledge on the fish stocks of the CAO to be able to evaluate possibilities for future sustainable fisheries in the area. Chapter 1 is an introductory chapter, and Chapter 9 presents a holistic gap analysis based on Chapters 2-8 and recommendations for research priorities and the next steps. The critical gap analysis highlights that the knowledge gaps for the CAO are enormous and obstruct any quantitative analyses of its fish stocks. This agrees with the conclusions from the Fifth FiSCAO Report (FiSCAO 2018). While data for the physical environment in the CAO (oceanography, bottom topography and ice-cover dynamics) would be sufficient for fish stock modelling and assessment, there is a massive lack of biological and ecological data. The CAO is not a closed system and some aspects of the shelf seas are of high relevance for the CAO, notably connectivity of fish stocks and fish species moving north with climate warming. Scientific research and monitoring programs are established in the shelf seas, and new data are constantly being produced. Fish stock data are available from scientific projects and monitoring programs for some of the shelf seas (Barents Sea, Bering Sea, and to a lesser extent for the Beaufort Sea and the Chukchi Sea). Data exist also for the Russian shelf seas (Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea), but these data are not internationally available, while for the areas north of Canada/Greenland data are missing; they do not exist because of the severe ice conditions there. More data from all shelf seas may be hidden in reports that are not publicly accessible. We recommend to make current knowledge generally available by translating key publications and identification of valuable data reports. Research priorities comprise the collection and analysis of primary data in the CAO, and – to a limited extent – from adjacent waters through collaborations with other Signatories of the Agreement (e.g. on population genetics). Further research priorities include an evaluation of ecosystem vulnerability, social-ecological analyses, i.e. recognizing the close and often complex interactions between humans and nature, and recommendations for governance of the CAO. Fulfilling the 14 specific research priorities mentioned in Chapter 9 to “sufficient knowledge available” could enable the potential, future application of an Ecosystem Approach to Management for the CAO.

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DOI 10.2826/387890

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Snoeijs-Leijonmalm, P. , Flores, H. , Volckaert, F. , Niehoff, B. , Schaafsma, F. , Hjelm, J. , Hentati-Sundberg, J. , Niiranen, S. , Crépin, A. S. and Österblom, H. , EFICA (2020): Review of the research knowledge and gaps on fish populations, fisheries and linked ecosystems in the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO) , [Other] doi: 10.2826/387890

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