THE ICONIC European cod fishery, which collapsed in the 1980s and has been ailing ever since, has finally increased above dangerously low levels and hauled itself off the Marine Conservation Society’s Fish to Avoid list.
North Sea cod is now rated “4 and amber”, which means it’s showing signs of improvement. The population now needs to increase above precautionary levels, according to MCS, whilst the fishing mortality should be further reduced to what’s known as the Maximum Sustainable Yield – this is the maximum level at which the stock can be fished without depleting the population.
However, all cod stocks in UK waters are still being fished in excess of this level, which is required by law by 2020. “Many fisheries still need to better avoid incidental catches of juvenile cod when fishing for other fin fish, flat fish and langoustine or scampi,” said MCS fisheries officer Samuel Stone.
The fishing industry, consumers, and commercial buyers need to be aware that cod may never fully recover to its previous glory days of the 1970s and early 80s, he added.
A report by WWF, published in September, showed the dramatic decline in the population sizes of fish including mackerel and tuna. Many species essential to commercial and subsistence fishing – and therefore global food supply – are significantly depleted due to over fishing, the charity said.