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Ling (Molva molva) and Blue Ling (Molva dipterygia)

19.03.2013 // The information we have on the ling stock is mostly gathered from the fisheries. This gives too little information and data to estimate the stock size, but is enough to see the tendency over a period of time. From 2009 it is not allowed to have a direct fishing on blue ling in the Norwegian zone.

Stock status and setting of quotas

Fishing effort has decreased the last years in accordance to ICES’ recommendations of the reduction of caught ling in the Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea and North Sea. 

Based on the ICES approach for data-limited stocks, ICES advises that there should be a 20% reduction in effort.

This is the first year ICES is providing quantitative advice for data-limited stocks.

Management and technical regulations of the fishery

The ling fishery is regulated by bilateral quotas and national measures. The Norwegian fishery is regulated by quotas in the EU-, Faroe, and Iceland Economic Zones.

Total catches in 2011 were 10 100 tons, (50% longline, 45% gillnets, 4% trawl, and 1% other gear types) The total number of long liners participating in the fishery has declined the last years. The ling fishery is regulated through bilateral agreements that give Norway quotas in the EU zone, Faroese zone and Icelandic zone. Norway is one of the dominating countries in the ling fishery in these zones with 40-50 per cent of the total landings.

From 2009 it is not allowed to have a direct fishing on blue ling in the Norwegian zone; the specie can only be caught as by-catch.

The ling and blue ling fisheries in Norway is regulated through access limitations and by gear and area regulations.


Little is known about the ling and blue ling’s population structure, but it is not unlikely that separate populations or “stocks” occur within its extensive distribution area. Spawning areas, and hence the distribution of eggs and larvae, are widespread. Demersal juveniles are found in quite shallow waters along the coast or on offshore banks, e.g. in the northern North Sea. The species does not seem to form aggregations, e.g. during spawning or during wintertime.

Both ling species are widespread and common along the outer continental shelf and on the upper slope off the European continent (south to the Bay of Biscay) and the British Isles, on the Faroe Island shelf, around Iceland and in the northern North Sea and Skagerrak. Along the Norwegian Sea shelf, ling and blue ling is common from the Shetlands to the south western Barents Sea. The depth range extends from shallow coastal waters to about 600 meters.

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