North Sea Cod

After three rounds of talks with Norway, probably two more than necessary, during which the Commission stuck doggedly to its view that there should be a 61% reduction in the TAC for cod, a settlement was reached in Brussels, on the Friday before the December Council, at a 50% reduction. The TAC will be 17,669 tonnes and further talks will be held in January and February over a range of additional supporting measures designed to aid recovery of the stock.

North Sea Cod Q&A

North Sea cod is regarded by many as an iconic stock. After the gadoid outburst* in the 1960s and 1970s, when a huge increase in abundance of cod-related species was observed, cod recruitment returned to more average levels by the 1980 and 1990s. By that time the stock also faced fleet overcapacity after a subsidised building boom leading to a high fishing mortality and a chaotic management system. Fleet decommissioning in the late 1990s right-sized the fleets and from 2005 or thereabouts (leaving aside the blind alley of effort control) more sensitive (and effective) management measures were adopted. From 2000 there was a dramatic reduction in fishing pressure and from then to 2015 the stock biomass increased steadily annually. This changed again around 2015, two years after the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Industry Initiative on North Sea Cod

One of the few bright spots in the depressing downturn of the North Sea cod stock has been the way that the fishing industries of the countries affected have taken ownership of the problem - and worked collaboratively to develop workable solutions. This is the first time that the fishing associations right across the North Sea, including Norway, which is outside the EU and CFP, have cooperated in a collegiate way.

North Sea Cod – Disappointment

Disappointment is almost inadequate as a term to describe the news that once again the iconic North Sea cod stock is in trouble. After a decade and a half in which the stock has been slowly but steadily increasing, the biomass is again in steep decline.