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|During the age of 'uncontrolled' fisheries, national fleets roamed between fishing grounds in international waters, while territorial waters and national fishery limits were 3-12 miles. Only after in the mid nineteen seventies the 200-mile EEZ fishery limits had become common, international management could be experimented with.|
Fig 1. shows the landings from the major cod stocks in the North Atlantic ocean before and after 1976. It can be seen that the average catch during the 20 years after 1976 was only 64% of that before 1976, during a period of practically no management.
It had been expected that after the reduction in fishing pressure the catch would initially fall, then rise again, but it remained low. Evidently, the assumption that the stock would increase in size, did not hold water.
|At the start of this management experiment the average catch of cod at Icelandic grounds had been for a long time around 450,000MT/year tons. Later, however, the landings of cod have deteriorated to around 200,000MT/year and remained so for many years. No lesson had been learned, and instead of returning to the former fishing pattern, the management screws were tightened even more, the fishing pressure reduced still further, and since 1984 brought under an ITQ system|
|Landings of cod from W. of Scotland and from the Irish sea 1970-2002. The landings from both grounds show a constant decline from 1988.|
|Landings of cod in the North sea. Almost steady decline from 1988.|
|Reductions in cod catches have been reported for the cod stocks of the North Sea, Irish Sea and West of Scotland after increase in mesh size, cuts in quotas and general reduction of fishing pressure.|
TAC's and landings of cod from the North sea. According to this graph, TACs have not been exceeded. Scientific advice has been followed.
Why then is the cod stock in such a bad shape, according the scientists?
The landings of Faroe cod show regular oscillations from 20,000 to 40,000MT, despite relatively small changes of fishing pressure from time to time. It can be seen that the oscillations get more regular and stronger as time goes on.
Possibly, this can be related to the fact that more and more restrictions are imposed on the fishery through the years, as fishery gets more and more limited, first by closing fjords and bays as the closed coastal zone was extended from 3 to 4 nautical miles in 1955, then to 6 miles in 1959, 12 miles in 1964 and finally 200 miles in 1978. Mesh size was 100 mm in 1967, 110 mm in 1970, 130 mm in 1974, 135 mm in 1978 and 145 mm in 1990.
|------- It is a basic law of ecology that heavy fishing pressure (predation) reduces oscillations within fished (prey) populations, because it keeps the stock size clear of the conditions that would‘ve lead to starvation, increased cannibalism, reduced growth and increased natural mortality ----------|
Landings of cod in Faroe waters 1950-2004. The catch has been oscillating fairly regularly, with a period of 8-11 years, except for a long dip in 1988-1995. That coincides with a period of TAC's and quotas. Since 1996 the Faroeise have had days at see system with no TAC limit.
The fishing pressure is more or less similar through the 1950-1987 period, the catch reflecting the size of the stock. The downs are not caused by "overfishing", as the stock recovers under a constant fishing pressure. It is also known that individual growth is slow when catches are high and growth is fast when catches (stock) are low.
|There are other factors than just fishing that control the stock size. Faroe scientists have recently suggested that the food supply controls recruitment and growth in the stock|
|ICES advises in Faroes:|
Advice on management: ICES advises that fishing effort in 2002 be reduced to correspond to fishing mortality below Fpa, corresponding to landings less than 28 000 t. Current practice under the effort management system, to increase the number of fishing days allowed when moving into deeper waters, should be suspended until fishing mortality has decreased such that saithe is harvested within safe biological limits. The present spawning closures should be maintained.
Catch 2001: 50 000 t , Catch 2002: 54 000 t
Advice on management: ICES advises that fishing effort in 2004 be reduced to correspond to fishing mortality below Fpa = 0.28, corresponding to an effort reduction of about 30% . Current practice under the effort management system, to increase the number of fishing days allowed when moving into deeper waters, should be suspended until fishing mortality has decreased such that saithe is harvested within safe biological limits. The present spawning closures should be maintained.
Catch: 47 000 t
ICES advises that fishing effort in 2004 be reduced to correspond to a fishing mortality below Fpa = 0.28, corresponding to an effort reduction of about 30% . The present spawning closures should be maintained .
Catch 2004: 46 000 t
Fishing effort in 2006 should be reduced to correspond to a fishing mortality below Fpa = 0.28, corresponding to an effort reduction of about 40% if the relationship between fishing effort and fishing mortality is linear .
Catch 2005: 62 000 t
Advice on management: ICES recommends that there be no fishing in 2002 on this stock . ICES recommends that a rebuilding plan is developed, aiming at preventing a further decline in SSB below Blim. The rebuilding plan should take into account technical interactions with other gadoids and ensure that fisheries do not expand when good year classes do occur, until SSB has increased above B pa.
|Advice on management: ICES advises a reduction in fishing mortality to below Fpa(0.25), corresponding to an effort reduction of about 35%.|
Advice on management: ICES advises that fishing effort in 2004 be reduced to correspond to a fishing mortality below Fpa = 0.25, corresponding to an effort reduction of about 36%.
No management plan is available for this stock, but the management objectives are an exploitation rate equivalent to a fishing mortality of 0.45 on average. The current F estimate is uncertain and is at or below the management target .
ICES advises that the fishing effort be reduced to correspond to a fishing mortality below Fpa=0.25, corresponding to an effort reduction of about 17%.
The fishing effort should be reduced to correspond to a fishing mortality below F pa = 0.25, corresponding to an effort reduction of about 23% assuming linearity in the realtionship between fishing effort and fishing mortality.
Regulations and their effects
An effort management system was implemented 1 st of June 1996. Fishing days are allocated to all fleets fishing in shallow waters (< 380-m depth) for the period 1 September 31 August. In addition the majority of the shallow areas (< ca. 200 m) are closed for trawling, and are mainly utilised by longliners.
Changes in fishing technology and fishing patterns
The effort management system invites improvement of fishing technology and fishing patterns. Some improvements were evident just after the introduction of the system, but no major improvements have been evident in subsequent years.
Advice on management: ICES advises that fishing mortality in 2002 should be reduced by at least 25% towards the Fp a, corresponding to landings of no more than 22 000 t .
Advice on management: ICES advises a reduction in fishing mortality to below Fpa(0.35), corresponding to an effort reduction of 50%. If this cannot be done in one year then as a first step, the fishing mortality in 2003 should be reduced by at least 35% in accordance
with the fishing mortality advised (0.46) in 2001.
Advice on management: ICES advises an effort reduction of at least 25% compared to the recent level to bring the fishing mortality towards Fpa.
Rebuilding SSB to above Bpa in one year will require closing all directed cod fisheries in 2005. Rebuilding SSB over a longer period will require a rebuilding plan.
Such a rebuilding plan should at least reduce the fishing mortality to the Fpa level. This would amount to an effort reduction in the neighbourhood of 2/3 compared to the recent level.
Rebuilding SSB to above Bpa in one year will require closing all directed cod fisheries in 2006. Rebuilding SSB over a longer period will require a rebuilding plan.
Such a rebuilding plan should at least result in a fishing mortality below Fpa. This would amount to an effort reduction of about 50% compared to the recent level.
|Ices advise on COD from 1987:|
Every time the role of overfishing as the main cause for stocks‘ depletion is disputed, the demise of the Northern cod is used as a proof of overfishing. But, it is quite possible that it was an oceanographic-climatic shift that brought down the cod. Catch data from the past show striking similarities between Greenland and Labrador. Both cod stocks collapsed, with a one year interval, in 1969 and 1970.
In 1990, just before the moratorium, the Canadian stock showed all symptoms of starvation, the fish had low condition factor, low liver index, showed reduced size at maturity, big fish were disappearing (dying) at a higher rate than small fish, etc. Interestingly, non commercial species also disappeared. Arctic char in Labrador suffered from starvation and high natural mortality.
Now cod is coming back in Greenland and according to Wappel (2005), at the coast of Newfoundland cod is plentiful.
|Landings of cod from the grounds at V-Greenland and Labrador 1959-1986. Landings drop suddenly 1969 at Greenland and a year later at Labrador. This has been related to cold water anomaly moving south from Greenland.|
|From the hearings in Newfoundland September 2005:|
We have a large inshore stock in Bonavista, Trinity, and Notre Dame Bays that has been increasing yearly, in my view. Inshore fishermen cannot fish for any species with nets without having large bycatches. Last year, in a three-week blackback fishery, approximately 400 tonnes of cod were landed as bycatch. This year it was cut down to a two-week blackback fishery. We landed 1,000 tonnes of northern cod out of that fishery. In my view, this is a very positive sign of rebuilding — more fish spread over a larger area."
In fact, in Bonavista and Trinity Bay, the cod, as far as I'm concerned, is just as plentiful as when John Cabot landed there, if not more so. When the capelin come in there, the cod roll on the beaches chasing the capelin. In the years when there was plenty of cod, before the moratorium, we never saw that. Now I don't know if it's the actual overabundance of cod in the area that's causing it. They’re not starved to death. They're healthy looking fish, and large fish, right."
"Fishermen are getting cod in lobster pots. They're getting them in herring nets. That never used to occur before."
From: Wappel, 2005
|Fishermen say that cod is coming back:|
|Trawl catch at the Grand Banks in February 2004.|
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