File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS A fishing boat moored in Neddy Harbour in Gros Morne National Park, N.L. Hopes have been dashed for a recovery of the once mighty northern cod stock off Newfoundland, a leading conservation group says.

Hope fading for recovery of northern cod: ‘This stock isn’t growing’

HALIFAX — Hopes have been dashed for a recovery of the once mighty northern cod stock off Newfoundland, a leading conservation group says.

Three years after scientists confirmed there were signs of a comeback and catch limits were increased, the federal government decided this week to reduce the limit.

Ottawa cited a spring stock assessment that found the cod population had declined 30 per cent after seven years of rebuilding.

However, Oceana Canada says the 9,600-tonne catch limit announced Tuesday — a 25-per-cent reduction when compared with last year — is still too high.

“There were some fragile signs of recovery,” said Robert Rangeley, a marine biologist and science director for Oceana Canada. “All those hopes were dashed in the assessment this spring.”

Northern cod were once the backbone of Newfoundland and Labrador’s 400-year-old fishing industry. But the population collapsed in the early 1990s because of overfishing, mismanagement and changing environmental conditions.

A fishing moratorium imposed in 1992, which was eventually extended to other groundfish stocks, wiped out more than 30,000 jobs.

It was the largest mass layoff in Canadian history.

Within a year, the entire $700-million enterprise — and way of life — was gone.

But there were initial signs of recovery in 2012, and by 2015 the catch limits started to increase — that year’s limit was 4,400 tonnes, less than half of what it is now.

Rangeley said the biomass of the northern cod population is now estimated at around the same levels as in 1992.

“The projections for next year are no better (because) this stock isn’t growing,” Rangeley said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s well under the critical zone … It’s pretty scary.”

The province’s largest fishermen’s union is arguing that the new catch limit amounts to a “dramatic reduction” that will hurt coastal communities that rely on the fishery as a key source of income.

Keith Sullivan, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union, said the March stock assessment had concluded the fishery was having no impact on the trajectory of the stock.

“This decision (to reduce the catch limit) ignores socio-economic considerations for hundreds of communities in our province and the thousands of people who rely on coastal resources,” he said in a statement late Tuesday. “Without it, outmigration will continue and rural life will be a thing of the past, with no industry to support it.”

The union said the latest research indicates the population decline can be mainly attributed to natural mortality and not fishing pressure.

Just Posted

Windstorm: One year later

Signs remain of the devastation from windstorm that toppled hundreds of trees

Reported grizzly bear sightings near Penhold

Two people called in reported sightings Saturday

Urgent need for blood donors at Red Deer clinic

Though summer and the coming long weekend may mean a slowdown for… Continue reading

Looking at the bright side of Red Deer’s windstorm

It’s a chance for forest renewal, says naturalist

Burman University transit proposal accepted

Additional weekday bus ride to be added and bus pass introduced

VIDEO: What separation from parents does to children: ‘The effect is catastrophic’

This is what happens inside children when they are forcibly separated from… Continue reading

Camargo lifts Braves over Blue Jays with first career grand slam

Braves 11 Blue Jays 4 TORONTO — Jaime Garcia is searching for… Continue reading

A beetle brings a nightmare on ash street

Introduced pests and diseases put the fear of God into plant biologists… Continue reading

Photos: Blair House is where the president’s guests get VIP treatment

WASHINGTON - Diagonally across the street from the White House is a… Continue reading

Ten Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivors meet in Las Vegas for NHL awards

HUMBOLDT, Sask. — Ten of the 13 survivors from the Humboldt Broncos… Continue reading

Triathletes young and old prepare for weekend event in Red Deer

Woody’s Triathlon goes Saturday and Sunday

Driver knocks over metal barricade, rolls several times in crash near Olds

A man is in hospital after his SUV crashed into the QEII… Continue reading

In tit-for-tat, Trump threatens more tariffs against China

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has directed the U.S. Trade Representative to… Continue reading

Commons Speaker says no to Tory calls for emergency debate on Canada-U.S. trade

OTTAWA — The official Opposition is calling for an emergency debate in… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month