Cod report fails to reflect true status of stock –

Cod report fails to reflect true status of stock Published:  17 September, 2012

Bertie Armstrong

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation has angrily criticised the way that a scientific report on the number of adult cod in the North Sea has been reported in some sections of the media, which fails to reflect a true picture of the status of the stock.

The media reports, which stated there were ‘only 100 adult cod in the North Sea’, are a prime example of the ‘cherry picking of facts’, according to Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF.

The media was reporting on scientific research by Cefas, the government fisheries laboratory, which from catch analysis found not a single cod over the age of 13 and that there could fewer than 100 such fish left in the North Sea.

Bertie Armstrong said: “This is a classic example of the cherry picking of the facts without providing a balanced report on the true situation. According to current scientific research, the stock is showing clear signs of recovery in that the spawning stock biomass is increasing and fishing morality is decreasing. It is unfortunate that some see fit to place undue focus on certain work.

“Cod mature and spawn well before the age of 13 and so are therefore contributing to the stock biomass on an annual basis. There has obviously been an attempt to give the impression that there are few mature fish left.  However, maturity is directly related to both age and size and it is recognised that most cod of 4 -5 years old are mature.”

This is borne out by other scientific research (Model of Growth and Maturity for North Sea Cod) that showed that 100% of 5-year old cod were mature, 82% of 4-year old cod were mature, and 30% of 3 year old cod were mature.

“The fact is that scientific research is showing that the cod stock is recovering, thanks in part to the pioneering efforts of our fishermen to launch a range of conservation initiatives, including technical alterations to fishing gear and real time area closures. Indeed, only recently our prawn fishermen and netmakers have developed trawls that have reduced fish discards by up to 70 per cent.

“The true situation is that our conservation efforts are helping North Sea cod to recover and secure a sustainable future for the stock.”