Report suggests fish stocks are turning a corner

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 19 July 2013

Report suggests fish stocks are turning a corner MCS says enough time must given before we can start getting some stocks back on the menu A new report published today by the University of Aberdeen indicates that some fish species in the North East Atlantic region are showing signs of recovery, with stock numbers beginning to stabilise and showing signs of growth The authors of the paper go so far as to link this encouraging news with the management measures laid out in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) over the last decade.

Report suggests fish stocks are turning a corner MCS says enough time must given before we can start getting some stocks back on the menu A new report published today by the University of Aberdeen indicates that some fish species in the North East Atlantic region are showing signs of recovery, with stock numbers beginning to stabilise and showing signs of growth The authors of the paper go so far as to link this encouraging news with the management measures laid out in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) over the last decade.They warn that the CFP, which is currently being reviewed, needs to be seen for its positive impacts, as well as fix its well-publicised weaknesses Jim Masters, MCS Aquaculture and Fisheries Programme Manager, says “This report makes really encouraging reading, and comes at an important time. We welcome any data that indicates a recovery, however small, and we are optimistic that the outlook for fishing and fish stocks is improving in some cases. It is vital to note, however, that many of the species studied are only at the foothills of real recovery. It will take time for stock levels to recover to their full potential, which will deliver greater benefit us all in the long-run. Meanwhile we must continue our efforts to call for a continued recovery, confident that fish stocks at full reproductive levels are both possible and more profitable. “Reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy should further improve the situation for all European fish stocks: a continued reduction in fishing pressure, more sustainable catching methods and a legal requirement to end over-fishing will all help speed up the recovery forecast in this report.” MCS believes that this is particularly true for cod - an iconic species for us here in the UK. Recent headlines have portrayed the current status of stocks in the North Sea as a reason to encourage consumers to “eat cod again”. This is a miss-representation of the situation, and is not supported by the best available science. Jim Masters continues “Cod is showing signs of recovery in some places, but a big increase in fishing effort at this stage would leave stocks vulnerable to heading straight back into crisis point. What we’re saying is that, whilst there may be signs of recovery, there is a long way to go before stocks are at a healthy state as defined by science. If we start suggesting people can eat cod ‘worry’ free right now the North Sea stocks will quickly slip back to dangerously low levels. We must be patient if we want to return to eating cod from the North Sea with confidence.”

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