June 27, 2019 3:38 pm

Increased northern cod quota could slow species’ recovery: conservationist

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
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An oceans advocacy group says an increased federal catch limit for Newfoundland’s critically depleted northern cod could harm recovery of the stocks.

On Monday, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans released this year’s general management approach for the northern cod stewardship fishery, increasing the catch quota to 12,350 tonnes – a 30 per cent increase from 2018.

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Oceana Canada’s science director Robert Rangeley says the decision was disappointing given scientific research and the department’s own classification of the stock’s status as “critical.”

Rangeley cited an economic study published last month by his group that projected with lower fishing pressure, employment in the northern cod fishery could skyrocket in just over a decade.

The commercial cod fishery, essential to Newfoundland and Labrador’s fishing industry, collapsed and was placed under a moratorium in 1992, throwing thousands out of work and sparking protests.

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A department spokesperson said scientific advice and stakeholder views were considered in making the decision to increase the quota this year, bringing it back to levels similar to 2017.

In an April report, the department noted a four per cent increase in northern cod’s spawning stock biomass from 2018, though officials said they were still concerned about the stock’s critical state.

Oceana Canada is appealing to Federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson to reverse the quota decision.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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