Today, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) held a meeting with representatives from the fishing industry, Indigenous rights holders, the scientific community and non-governmental organizations to discuss this year’s fishing quota for the severely depleted Northern cod fishery.
A four per cent increase in the population’s spawning biomass was announced last week, prompting calls to increase Northern cod quotas by as much as 30 per cent in 2019. Oceana Canada urges DFO to follow its own scientific advice and keep fishing pressure at the lowest possible level to give this population a chance to recover, decades after its collapse.
Oceana Canada’s Director of Science, Dr. Robert Rangeley, released this statement after today’s meeting:
“A small increase in Northern cod’s biomass does not mean DFO should quickly increase harvest levels.
While a trend of incremental increases is positive, we must proceed with caution because Northern cod is fragile and in the early stages of rebuilding. It is deep in the critical zone, where it has been for decades, and is at less than 50 per cent of the biomass that would move it into the cautious zone. Northern cod’s ability to rebound is further compromised by historically low recruitment, ecosystem changes and low prey availability.
In 2018, the commercial fishery harvested more than 9,000 tonnes, and – due to inadequate monitoring and unreliable estimates – an additional unknown but significant amount was fished recreationally.
Despite this, Northern cod does have a chance to recover if DFO follows its own scientific advice to keep fishing pressure at the lowest possible level and implements a rebuilding plan that follows globally recognized best practices.
The alternative is to prematurely ramp up harvest levels, as was done in the past, at the expense of rebuilding a resilient and sustainable fishery.
Commercial fisheries are an important source of income for many people, and rebuilt fish populations provide much greater benefits to fishing communities and ocean ecosystems.”
For more information, please contact:
Kathleen Munro, Consultant, Pilot PMR at 416.462.0199 x250 or 902.789.3165, firstname.lastname@example.org
Northern Cod Fact Sheet
About Oceana Canada
Oceana Canada is an independent charity and part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana Canada believes that Canada has a national and global obligation to manage our natural resources responsibly and help ensure a sustainable source of protein for the world’s growing population. Oceana Canada works with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits, and protect our future.