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Cod Discards

Nov 20,2007 SACN


Top news story this morning is the discarding of cod, due to lack of quota.

Fishermen are pointing out that there is a recovery of cod, and with so much cod on the grounds it is difficult to avoid catching cod which has to be discarded rather than taken back and sold.

What doesn't get much of a mention is that most of this cod are immature fish which will not start spawning until 2010.

A similar situation existed in 1996, but nearly all of that 'plentiful' cod was taken long before reaching spawning size, contributing to the alarming reduction in the population of cod capable of reproducing itself (the spawning stock biomass or SSB).

When the SSB drops to an unsustainable level, cod are in great danger, no matter how much immature fish there is on the ground, unless those immature fish are allowed to recruit to the SSB.

And this is at the heart of the problem.

Fishermen struggling to maintain a living having to dump their cod catch, whilst the current level of fishing mortality endangers the long term rebuilding of a stock of fish that is able to sustainably grow its numbers.  

Calls for an increase in quota so that fishermen are able to land their bycatch ignores the problem that it makes no difference to the long term future of cod whether it is killed and dumped, or killed and sold for profit.

And any increase in quota is likely to lead to even greater numbers of cod being killed before they can spawn. 

The only real answer is to catch less cod, very difficult to do whilst maintaining a viable fishing industry, but essential if there is to be a long term future for both the fishing industry and for cod.

Stories appearing today include:

BBC: Fish Dumping Will Ruin Industry

BBC: Quotas Could Lead to Fish Dumping

Video: Minister Tells of Fish Waste

Video: Fish Dumped Back in North Sea

Video: Fisherman's EU Quota Sadness

Radio 4:

Absolutely classic is the grilling that the Fisheries Minister recieved on the Today Programme. 

You can 'Listen Again' by visiting http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/ and selecting the listen again option for Tues 20th November).
The other side of the Story - Too Many Fishermen Spoil the Fish Stock


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comment Comments (1 posted) 
  • Yet another reason why he should leave the rsa sector alone. He has been got at. I challenge Shaw to provide the science that the cod stock is now sustainable to increase the quota. The cod that is showing have been protected previously to try and repair the breeding stock. This is madness. His idea of sustainable is to fish for discard full stop. bass and cod at the moment, what a plonker.
(Posted on November 20, 2007, 10:40 am barry luxton)


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