Report bodes well for Grand Banks cod

New fisheries data suggest that after a 16-year moratorium, Atlantic cod on the southern Grand Banks have increased by 69 percent since the last assessment in 2007, World Wildlife Canada announced on Thursday. 

While the stock is still near historic lows, a significant increase in the number of spawning fish is good news for the future of this once-major fishery. However, stated WWF-Canada, this trend toward recovery will only continue if the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) commits to implementing an effective rebuilding strategy at its annual meeting next week.

“These new signs of recovery present a real opportunity,” said Dr. Robert Rangeley, VP of WWF-Canada, Atlantic Region. “Management tools that include targets, limit reference points and harvest control rules to rebuild stocks are already being used with success in national waters. NAFO needs to act on the commitments they have already made by using these same types of tools to protect strong year classes and allow further stock growth.”

NAFO, an intergovernmental fisheries science and management body charged with conserving Northwest Atlantic fisheries, will hold its annual meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 20 to 24 September.

Although NAFO adopted a rebuilding strategy for Grand Banks cod in 2007 that included a voluntary 420-metric-ton bycatch reduction target, this strategy has been largely ineffective, WWF said. In 2008, the bycatch reduction target for southern Grand Banks cod was exceeded by 119 percent and by 162 percent in 2009.

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