Shetland says no more cod cuts –

Shetland says no more cod cuts Fishing Monthly Published:  12 November, 2003

THERE IS no scientific justification for further cod quota cuts, according to a Shetland-based pressure group.

The grouping, known as SHOAL,has just completed a review of the advice given to the EU by the Interntational Council for the Exploration of the Seas.

SHOAL, a partnership between Shetland Islands Council and the fishing industry aimed at creating a future for fishing, said the new quotas must “accurately reflect” the scientific data published last month by ICES.

This report contains several positive elements regarding North Sea cod.

For example, scientific data shows that the stock of mature cod has increased by 59% since 2001.

SHOAL says if cod continue to multiply at the same rate, the stock of mature cod will reach the recommended safe minimum of 70,000 tonnes next year.

Meanwhile fishermen’s cod catches are well below recommended levels with ICES scientists estimating that the proportion of cod caught by fishermen is half of what it was in 2000.

The Shetland grouping stresses, therefore, that there is no scientific basis to further reduce cod quota.

Scientific data also shows,they say, that during the past six years, the number of young fish that survive has stabilised and there is a high probability that cod stocks will continue to grow in 2004.

SHOAL stresses that all these positive elements have appeared BEFORE the recent decommissioning of Scottish vessels. As a consequence, cod stocks should improve even more in 2004 due to this year’s halving of the Scottish fleet.