NORTH SEA COD stocks have continued to rise for the seventh year in a row, according to figures released by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).
There are indications that reduced discarding and improved fisheries management have played a key part in helping to boost the numbers, which is estimated at three times those in 2006.
Hazel Curtis of Seafish said: “This has been a breakthrough year for cod stocks in the North Sea. The ICES report shows a trebling in stock size over the past seven years and this is for a number of reasons, such as the sustained efforts of our fishing fleet to fish more selectively, coupled with innovations in management practice and favourable environmental conditions.
“Looking ahead, UK processors can anticipate a continued increase in landings of sustainably caught North Sea cod and can start working with fishermen to develop new products and markets that can benefit the whole seafood supply chain and British consumers.
“If the management plan for cod is followed ICES estimate we could see a further 45% increase in stock size next year. Cod stocks have not been this size since 1996 and further improvements in management and fishing techniques could see the stock return to pre-1983 levels (150,000) within the next few years.
“We hope that industry efforts will continue to be rewarded with increased stock size and quotas. The key to success in future years will be continued supply chain collaboration so that businesses including catching, processing and retail all play their part in delivering economic benefits to communities and sustainable healthy food to consumers.”