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Cod stock south of Newfoundland still in critical zone

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Nov19,2023

Cod stock south of Newfoundland still in the critical zone


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The Department of Fisheries and Oceans released Thursday the results of its most recent assessment of the cod stock in the 3Ps zone, southern Newfoundland. The update was not very positive: the cod stock is still in the critical zone and catches should be limited as much as possible.

Area 3Ps encompasses the waters south of the island between Burgeo and Cape St Mary's on the Avalon Peninsula.

The productivity of the stock gives us reason to be concerned and it is therefore still in the critical zone, explained DFO biologist Laura Wheeland at a press conference in Saint John. She said cod birth and death rates are concerning. Cod are also smaller and die younger.

This is the latest disappointing news for the cod fishery, which has long been Newfoundland's raison d'être.

After decades of overfishing, cod stocks collapsed and a moratorium was declared by Ottawa in the early 1990s. Initially, this moratorium was not expected to last very long, but the stocks never recovered and There are still concerns about the viability of the species, although recreational fishing and very limited commercial fishing are permitted these days.

According to Laura Wheeland, water temperature could play an important role in the evolution of the cod population off the coast of Newfoundland.

Waters in the region are warming because of climate change, she recalled. In 2021 and 2022, in the 3Ps zone, surface and seafloor temperatures reached record levels. DFO expects similar data in 2023.

If the trend continues, cod will still be in the critical zone at least until 2027, according to the ministry.

The quality and quantity of data collected by the DFO have been criticized recently. This year, there were no scientific ships available to collect new data from the sea.

Since 1983, DFO has almost always carried out annual multi-species surveys in the 3Ps area, that is to say surveys allowing the collection of data on a multitude of species.

The ministry points out that there have been surveys in neighboring areas and that it already has enough data from previous years, which allows it to make models and forecasts that are always very accurate.

The federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development released a report earlier this month where he criticized the reliability of DFO data, which are necessary to ensure the sustainable management of commercial fisheries.

In 2022, there were 156 commercial marine fish stocks managed by the federal government. According to the commissioner, none of these 156 stocks have been assessed against all elements of DFO's fisheries monitoring policy. DFO was therefore unsure whether the level of monitoring was adequate.

Without reliable and timely catch data, the Department does not have the important information needed to ensure sustainable fisheries management. It is therefore exposed to the risk that fish stocks are overexploited, writes the commissioner, Jerry DeMarco, in his report.

The collapse of the population of cod in the 1990s, as well as its profound economic and social impacts, demonstrated that the recovery of fish stocks is much more difficult and requires many more resources than maintaining the population of a single species. healthy levels.

With information from CBC

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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