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back to article Scientists demand ban on North Sea cod fishing

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has called for a ban on fishing for North Sea cod, The BBC reports. The organisation's scientists have assessed stocks of this and other fish and concluded that while "saithe and haddock stocks are in good condition and can be the continued basis for sustainable …

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Cod Almighty!

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Can't they farm the depleted fishstocks in the same way they farm salmon?

They could then genetically modify them so they're born coated in a crunchy beer-batter.

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Re: Fish Farming

Unfortunately, as the Norwegians discovered when they tried to farm cod- as a voracious scavenger species, they are just as likely to eat each other as anything else.

Female cod are sexually mature at 6 years of age (their age can be determined by counting the number of rings on their 'ears' akin to dendrochronology). Unfortunately the average age of fish caught in the North Atlantic and North Sea is only 4 years of age. (Cod can live to about age 30 and weigh upwards of 120kg- though these are very very rare).

Female cod produce a lot of spawn- upwards of 2 million (and depending on size and age, possibly as many as 12 million). Unfortunately- as the roe hatch in surface coastal waters- the vast majority of them perish. Its estimated that on average a female cod may only have 2-4 viable offspring who live to sexual maturity themselves.

Unfortunately its a case of vast numbers of immature cod being hoovered up by our fishing industries on an annual basis- and very very few living to sexual maturity and successfully reproducing- consequently the population has slumped.

The North Sea is now mirroring the biological collapse of cod which happened off the coast of Newfoundland. In 1992 a temporary moratorium on cod fishing was put in place there, a moratorium which remains in place to the current day- as the collapse of cod irrevocably changed the eco-system and it is likely that it is incapable of ever hosting cod populations as it once did.

There is a "Commons" theory- whereby natural resources, such as fish, woodlands and other natural resources and commodities, are viewed as assets held in common for everyone, but which no-one actually owns. Once exploitation of that asset commences- everyone piles in and tries to claim their own share. This continues until the maximum carrying capacity of the resource is reached, after which point the resource as a whole deteriorates, but the individuals exploiting the resource exploit it ever more for personal gain- until the inevitable occurs.

In the case of cod, its collapse in Newfoundland can be traced back to the increased use of trawlers following the 1977 UN ruling which established 200 mile exclusion zones of the coasts of a lot of countries. The identical use of trawlers in the North Sea has had a similar impact.

Us Irish, Brits and Portuguese will have to accept that our smoked cod and chips- or Bacchalau as the Portuguese prefer, is a dish of the past, and a symbol of our shameful overexploitation of the bountiful oceans. Perhaps if an immediate moratorium is implemented in the North Sea, a fate similar to that which occurred in Newfoundland can be staved off. More likely- our deepsea trawlers will simply fish elsewhere- off the west coast of Africa or off New Zealand. Our Hoki fillets may not be on the menu all that much longer either, in that case.......

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Anonymous Coward

When will they listen?

When will the European and North Atlantic fishing community listen to the scientists????

It's been the same for a decade - the scientists have been warning that Cod stocks are being depleted at an alarming rate, and they recommend 50-70-100% reduction in catches. It's doom and gloom every year, and the message gets consistently more alarmist. But NOTHING gets done about it - the entire fishing industry puts it's fingers in it's ears and says "I can't hear you!".

Worried about job losses? If you don't stop fishing, it'll involved real and permanent jobs losses - once they're gone, they're gone. And don't think you can just deep trawl anymore either - that's even worse for the ecosystem. People/businesses need to realise they simply must cut back on their consumption of North Atlantic stocks.

And don't get me started on the Japs with their whaling...

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Silver badge

I boycot certain fishmongers

This sad situation reminds me of something I saw on our local fish market: hake of only 25-30cm long, clearly immature. I immediately vowed NEVER to buy anything from that fishmonger again (I told him to his face LOUDLY, which did not go down well). I never bought that much there anyway, the quality of much of his merchandise lead to an exclamation by a Greek visitor: "He should be shot!" Luckily there are better fishmongers who do make the effort to get mostly aquaculture stuff, or at least no undersized fish.

Maybe, just maybe, a more widespread boycot of ecologically unsound fish could work, but then we would need good controls to know the fish we do buy has been obtained in some ecologically sound way.

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Anonymous Coward

Smelly Fish

Fish suck anyway. Beady little eyes and slimy scales. Get down with the red meats is what I say.

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