Canadian cod comeback derailed

Canada’s stock of northern cod (Gadus morhua) off Newfoundland and Labrador has made a remarkable recovery over the past decade, but remains well below historical levels and current conservation limits. Despite scientific advice to minimize removals (see, for example, S. Rowe and G. A. Rose Nature 545, 412; 2017), the government bowed to political pressure and the reported catch for 2017 was almost triple that for 2015.

Last month’s assessment concludes that spawning stock biomass decreased by about 30% over the past year, and predicts a high probability of continued decline for 2019. This stalled productivity, together with evidence that the government’s 2017 fisheries-management plan failed to meet the target of sustained stock growth (see go.nature.com/2qt3trk), make it incumbent on Canada’s government to reduce cod mortality from fishing.

In our view, maintaining the current harvesting level or continuing expansion will jeopardize long-term stock recovery and a rebuilt fishery. Both stand to deliver another black eye to Canadian fisheries management.

Nature 556, 436 (2018)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-018-04898-4


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