Northern cod FIP hopeful new research project will lead to reopening of fishery

Published on
April 26, 2016

On the eve of the opening of Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, Belgium, members of the working group for the northern cod fisheries improvement project met to finalize plans for a five-year research project that may lead to the reopening of the fishery.

The FIP, which was launched at the 2015 Seafood Expo Global, oversees the northern cod stock complex, located in the waters of the northwest Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Canada. The FIP is led by industry associations representing seafood processors in eastern Canada, including the Association of Seafood Producers and the Groundfish Enterprise Allocation Council.

“We are on the right path here, and that makes it an exciting time for the industry,” said Blaine Sullivan, the chief operating officer of Ocean Choice International, a fishing company based in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. “OCI is pleased to support this process.”

Other members of the FIP include representatives from the government of Canada and the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, scientists from Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Center for Fisheries Ecosystems Research of Memorial University, members of the two industry associations, as well as three key buyers of cod: Icelandic Seachill, Davigel International and High Liner Foods.

In its April 25 meeting that marked the FIP’s first anniversary, the working group reviewed progress made in the organization’s first year. Recent indicators show significant recovery in the northwest Atlantic stock, which was once the largest cod stock in the world.

“This is an historic and iconic fishery,” said Alberto Wareham, the CEO of Icewater Seafoods, which harvests produces and markets frozen fish fillets out of its base in Newfoundland. “It’s not only vitally important to the industry, from harvesters to customers, it is vital to all who care about the sustainability of this resource and its recovery.”

The working group also reviewed a scientific research program planned for the next four to five years, which will study the fishery and may lead to the reopening of the commercial cod fishery in the northwest Atlantic.

“We are very excited about this development, and it is clear that the work of this FIP is grounded in science. That’s crucial to the fishery’s prospects in the years ahead,” said Jim Cannon, the president of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, a non-governmental organization that seeks to increase marine sustainability efforts through cooperation with business.

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