Micromesistius poutassou / Merlan Bleu / Blauer Wittling / Путассу / 蓝鳕

The blue whiting is a rather small codfish, usually 22 to 30 cm long, but can reach up to 50 cm. It is unique among codfish since it is solely an open ocean pelagic fish.

Mature blue whiting is found in the open sea, most often near the surface or in mid water, but can also be found at depths of 1,000 metres. Migrations are irregular and probably controlled by ocean currents and temperatures.

Historically, the blue whiting fishery has been an important source in the production of fishmeal and oil, and was significant for the European salmonid aquaculture.

The Stock
Blue whiting is caught in the North Atlantic, FAO area 27, from January to June.
Fishery Management
The blue whiting is a highly migratory stock. The main fishing nations are historically the EU, the Faroe Islands, Russia and Norway. The stock is managed on a multilateral level, initially by four parties recognised as coastal states (Norway, the EU, Iceland and the Faroe Islands). Russia participates in the consultations of the coastal states as an observer. The TAC for blue whiting is allocated between the coastal states and the NEAFC, to be further allocated among its parties non-coastal states to this stock.

On 16 December 2005, after six years of negotiations, the coastal states of the EU, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway reached consensus on the management and allocation of the vital blue whiting stocks through the agreed conclusions on fisheries consultations. A related NEAFC regulation for 2006 was also adopted. Initiatives by the industry organisations in Norway and several other countries made a significant contribution to the solution on blue whiting.

In November 2008, the coastal states agreed to implement a long-term management plan from 2011 onwards, with a significant reduction (35%) in fishing mortality. The plan was designed to be in accordance with the precautionary approach (in the long-term). However the long-term management plan today is subject to revision and is not finally agreed by the parties. The decisions on the total quota are taken on ad hoc basis as Ad Hoc Agreements for Regulation of Fisheries of Blue Whiting.


Exploitation of blue whiting only started in the 1970s. The species, in the last decades, has become increasingly important to the fishing industries of northern European countries, including Russia. Catches exceeded 1 million tonnes from 1998 to 2008. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, blue whiting was fifth most important capture fish species in 2006. However, recruitment of the stock fell to a low level in 2006 and has been weak ever since, causing declining spawning stock and eventually triggering strong reductions in catch quotas. The reasons for low recruitment in recent years are poorly known. The total quota for 2011 was set to 40,100 tonnes, which is less than 2% of the record catch of 2.4 million tonnes in 2004. Catches in 2011 exceeded the quota by more than 100%.

For 2012, ICES advises the catches should be no more than 391,000 tonnes. This large increase relative to the quota in 2011 (but not to the catches in 1998-2008) is caused by a revision in the stock assessment; however, recruitment to the stock is still low and the stock is forecasted to decline. The coastal states set the total quota for 2012 to 391,000 tonnes.

The fish is usually not marketed fresh, but processed into fish meal and oil. However, in Russia and in southern Europe, blue whiting are sometimes sold as food fish.



2008 | 1,283K
2009 | 640K
2010 | 551K
2011 | 108K

Source: FAO

Main Markets

Blue whiting is mainly sold to Russia, Nigeria, Cameroon and China.

On the Menu

This tasty white fish is a rich source of protein and contains vitamin B12 and selenium.

Nutrional Values


Water 80 g Total lipid (fat) 0.4 g
Calories 72 kcal Omega-3 0.1 g
Protein 17.1g 17.1g    

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