WWF Recommends Finalization of Cod Conservation Plan at Upcoming NAFO Annula meeting – Fishupdate.com

WWF Recommends Finalization of Cod Conservation Plan at Upcoming NAFO Annula meeting Published:  16 September, 2011

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says it will be attending the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization’s (NAFO) annual meeting being held in Halifax, Nova Scotia from September 19-23, this year to call for more action on cod recovery and protection for vulnerable marine ecosystems.

The Atlantic cod population on the Grand Banks, southeast of Newfoundland is showing the early signs of recovery, according to a report by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization’s (NAFO) scientific council in 2010.

As the annual meeting of NAFO is about to begin on September 19th in Halifax, Nova Scotia, WWF cautions fisheries managers that they shouldn’t consider rushing to reopen the cod fishery that has been under moratorium since 1994. They must first finalize the promising interim cod conservation plan and rebuilding strategy that was developed by NAFO’s scientists and managers over the course of the past year.

This small window of opportunity for the cod rebuilding strategy to make a difference could easily be lost to the high amount of cod fished as bycatch in other fisheries, says WWF, adding that reducing bycatch by 50 percent is the key to cod recovery, combined with protection of habitats and other ecological important areas such as spawning and nursery grounds.

NAFO has demonstrated leadership by protecting coral and sponge habitats and seamounts, but, says WWF, they have fallen behind on their 2006 international commitments to protect other vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as spawning grounds, as called for by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions.

“There is hope for a comeback of Grand Banks cod. A scientific study published in July 2011 showed that Atlantic cod off Nova Scotia are recovering from their dramatic collapse two decades ago — and that the ecosystem is recovering with them,” said a statement from WWF. WWF says this “is a good indicator for the future of fisheries on the Grand Banks”.