Scientific evidence backs North Sea cod abundance

Fishing mortality for cod declined by 43% between 2000 and 2011 Fishing mortality for cod declined by 43% between 2000 and 2011

According to the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), reports of a huge cod abundance in the North Sea is a direct result of a dramatic decline in fishing effort and the introduction of conservation initiatives by the Scottish fishing fleet.

According to Scottish Sea Fisheries Statistics, the fishing effort declined by 70% between 2000 and 2011. The latest scientific figures from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) have revealed that the spawning stock biomass of North Sea cod increased by 250% between 2006 to 2012, while fishing mortality for cod declined by 43% between 2000 and 2011.

The reports follow video footage aired on TV news bulletins in March showing a large haul of cod being taken aboard a fishing vessel in the North Sea. The SFF says scientific evidence is also backing the experience of fishermen on the fishing ground.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive, SFF, said: “It should not be forgotten that fishermen have made huge sacrifices over the last 10 years or so to reach this stage. The number of fishing vessels has dramatically declined and there have been strict effort controls as well. The important step now is to ensure that fishermen are rewarded for this increasing stock of cod and other fish through enhanced catching opportunities in the future. Survival of the fishing communities will depend on this.”

He added: "This must be achieved through careful fisheries management based on the science to ensure the continuation of sustainable harvesting that enables the stock to prosper."

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