Big fish numbers up in North Sea: Danish study

Species of fish such as plaice and cod are on the increase under the waves of the North Sea, a Danish study has found.

Big fish numbers up in North Sea: Danish study
File photo: Søren Bidstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

The research, conducted by DTU Aqua at the Technical University of Denmark, found a significant increase in numbers of large fish in the northeast Atlantic.

Results of the study show that, since the turn of the century, the biomass of 25 different species included in the study doubled. Certain species, including plaice, cod and hake, tripled or even quadrupled over the period.

Although overfishing in the area is a concern that has been reported in the past, the results of the study are “a success story for European fisheries administration,” DTU Aqua head of department Ken Haste Andersen told Ritzau.

“This is good news that is a little surprising. Many of the populations of large fish are actually on their way up after many years of overfishing, which sent them close to the bottom,” Andersen said.

“We have been able to control the amount of fishing so that these species have been able to come back again,” he said.

Similar trends have also been observed in other parts of the world where administration of fishing functions effectively, he added.

Fishing has, however, yet to reach a sustainable level in all aspects, according to the DTU Aqua head of department.

“Some species have reach a level of sustainability, but others are not there yet,” he said.

Other seas around Denmark, the Kattegat and Baltic seas, still face challenges in preserving fish populations, Andersen added.

“In the eastern Baltic Sea near Bornholm, for example, we have seen the strange trend of cod becoming thin and weak. We don’t know exactly why,” he said.

The DTU Aqua study is based on data from 2016. Biomass is a measure of the total mass of fish within a given area.

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