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North Sea Cod Stocks See Big Improvement

GENERAL - New data to be released by ICES, the independent international scientific body, will reveal that numbers of cod in the North Sea sufficiently mature to reproduce are now 40 per cent higher than their average since the turn of the 21st century.

The number of cod being killed each year by fishing and other natural causes has also decreased by almost 15per cent in the same period, according to ICES. Seafish Chief Executive John Rutherford said: “This latest data from independent scientists is evidence that fishermen’s own ideas for catching less but landing more fish can work.

“The outstanding improvements in the stock levels for North Sea cod are due to measures undertaken by the fishing industry to reduce fishing effort. The industry has also been working with scientists on the creation of a sustainable future for the North Sea. The measures undertaken include demonstrable compliance with the EU quota system, voluntary real-time closures of fishing grounds and other measures to reduce discards, including changes to fishing gear.

“As an industry, we know that there’s no room for complacency. There have been some good years for spawning cod which, coupled with industry initiatives, show how stocks can rebound. We have seen a similar situation occur with cod stock recovery in the Grand Banks of Newfoundland where there are now 100,000 tonnes of spawning stock according to Canadian fisheries scientists.

“This year’s ICES data illustrates how premature it is to talk of stock collapses and blame fishermen for everything. We do still need to see further improvements in cod stocks before we can consider these stocks to be fit for long term commercial exploitation,” continued Rutherford.

“But do not underestimate the significance of this announcement. This is the first time that ICES scientists have felt confident to recommend a substantial increase in target catch since calling for a full closure to cod fishing in 2003. The data released tomorrow show that fishermen can play a positive role in safeguarding, rebuilding and conserving fish stocks.”

the Fish Site Editor

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