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MEDIA RELEASE: DFO announces results of 2017 stock assessment for Northern Cod

March 23, 2018

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Today’s release of the 2017 stock assessment for Northern Cod in area 2J3KL showed a decline in the stock’s biomass after seven years of increases. DFO Science attributed the bulk of the decline to natural mortality causes.

“While this news is not what fish harvesters had hoped for, these types of fluctuations are to be expected in any species that is recovering and is certainly not a cause for panic,” said FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan. “Overall, the stock has grown from 25,000 MT in 2005 to 315,000 in 2017,” he added.

FFAW-Unifor Fisheries Scientist, Dr. Erin Carruthers explained, “Overall the stock trajectory has been positive over the past 10 to 15 years, but there have been dips. DFO estimates show that Northern Cod spawning stock biomass declined in 2010 and 2011 and then increased again between 2012 and 2016.”

FFAW-Unifor requests more focus on the impacts of predation within the ecosystem, particularly by grey and harp seals and their contribution to the very high natural mortality rate. An adult seal can consume as much as two tons of prey per year, a substantial portion of this being cod. The federal government must follow through on Standing Committee recommendations to better control the seal population. It is also crucial that the government implement measures to track removals from the recreational fishery.

FFAW-Unifor is taking steps to ensure the Northern Cod fishery is sustainable and responsibly managed, with fishing mortality remaining extremely low in comparison to natural mortality. The Union is co-leading a Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) for Northern Cod in 2JK3L, which was recently graded “A” by for significant progress in addressing concerns around bait, endangered/threatened/protected species, harvest control rules and management plans.

“The offshore fleet will undoubtedly lobby to scale back the inshore’s modest, sustainable stewardship fishery under the veil of conservationism, but let’s not forget it is the offshore that continues to operate draggers over pre-spawning aggregations in the extremely vulnerable 3Ps area. To be clear, the offshore fleet’s agenda is to prevent the inshore fishery from building capacity,” said Sullivan.

“The inshore continues to support the growth of the northern cod stock, harvesting responsibly in line with recommendations by DFO science,” said Tony Doyle, Vice President of the FFAW’s inshore council and harvester from Bay de Verde.


To read the technical briefing click here. 

For media inquiries, please contact:

Courtney Glode, FFAW-Unifor Communications


Photo by Neil Ever Osborne.