Scientists stick to cod ban call –

Scientists stick to cod ban call Published:  17 October, 2006

George MacRae

A TEAM of international scientists is sticking to its call for a ban on fishing southern cod stocks.

However fishing industry leaders today called for a more pragmatic approach by the European Commission to cod recovery in view of clear signs of improving stock health.

Scientists this Friday will release a report on the “status and perspectives”of some of the most important Northeast Atlantic fish stocks.

The 22 international scientists of the

Advisory Committee on Fishery Management (ACFM)

have come to the conclusion that the overall status of the fish stocks has not changed much from 2005 to 2006.Sustainable exploitation can be stated for Norwegian spring spawning herring, and there are indications of recovery of the Northern hake stock.

However, there are still numerous stocks that are too

heavily fished and stocks that are depleted,notably cod stocks and sandeel in the North Sea.

Martin Pastoors, ACFM Chair said: “It is good to see that prudent management can safeguard and rebuild the valuable resources in the sea.The Norwegian spring spawning herring stock is at a high level due to a rational exploitation strategy.Also the apparent recovery of the Northern hake stock is a positive signal.Unfortunately we have not seen clear signals of recovery for the depleted cod stocks.

“These stocks have a high growth potential, but the continued catches from these stocks in combination with very low recruitment have prevented a recovery.”

Major cod stocks in northern areas such as the Barents Sea

and around Iceland are large and productive.

But in the more southern part of the cod distribution area,a generally poor stock status prevails and fishing mortality is still high despite the lower catches.

Although there are slight differences in the actual

condition of those southern stocks, ICES is advising for

all southern cod stocks with the exception of cod in the western Baltic that there should be no cod catch next year.But today Mike Park, the executive chairman of the Scottish White Fish Producers’ Association, said that the European Commission now had to sit down and take a long look as to where it goes from here on cod recovery strategy now that there were real signs of recovery in the North Sea stock, with for example 2005 stock recruitment the best there had been for four to five years.In addition, ICES was now giving stock predictions for the first time since around 2001. But in the meantime, the Commission was still locked into an overly rigid

cod recovery programme which now had to change with the times if the fleet was to survive.

White fish association secretary George MacRae said:“The Commission has asked ICES the question of what needs to be done to restore cod to the level of 150,000 tonnes of spawning stock biomass by 2009 and in the light of insufficient progress made to date, ICES can only say one thing-ban cod fishing.” But the reality is that progress is taking place and as a result the Commission has a problem with its existing policy. Meanwhile, if a ban on cod catching was implemented, this as they had long pointed out, could not be done without affecting other stocks caught as part of a mixed fishery.

“The consequences of that would be quite ridiculous and disastrous, as we have consistently said.” is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.