Barents Sea cod is at historic high levels, so why is it up for delisting?

September 13, 2010 12:42

WWF is deeply concerned by retailer intentions to drop all Atlantic cod products from its seafood supply, including the sustainably managed Barents Sea cod, reports with reference to WWF.

The fishery is described by scientists of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) as harvested sustainably, with spawning stock close to its record high. WWF applauds companies that have committed to sell sustainable seafood, but dropping Barents Sea cod, a well-managed stock of Atlantic cod, from company seafood supplies contradicts these commitments. The Norwegian fishery for the Barents Sea cod stock is also certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as sustainable.

"Science confirms that Barents Sea cod is being harvested sustainably, therefore it's excessively heavy-handed and unnecessary to de-list this fishery from supermarket shelves." said Alfred Schumm, leader of WWF's Smart Fishing Initiative."The MSC certified Barents Sea cod is undoubtedly one of the best options at the fish counter".

Barents Sea cod is one of the few remaining cod stocks in good condition. While there are cod populations in other jurisdictions that are depleted due to overexploitation and lack of effective management systems, Barents Sea cod has been managed using best practices such as precautionary reference points, harvest control rules and area restrictions.

"The Barents Sea cod fishery is a success story that should be celebrated and used as a leading example for fisheries managers across the world. In order to recover all Atlantic cod populations we have to see similar management measures being implemented elsewhere." said Rasmus Hansson, CEO of WWF-Norway.

WWF recognizes that as in most fisheries, there is room for improvement. The Barents Sea cod fishery should continue to improve bycatch reduction, monitoring and control of illegal discarding and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and habitat protection, including additional closures to protect vulnerable bottom habitats such as cold water corals. Nevertheless, the stock is an excellent example of how effective management measures have yielded significant ecological and economical benefits.

Because of the vastly different circumstances between cod stocks in other jurisdictions and that of the Barents Sea, WWF advises seafood suppliers to assess their supply chains on a stock-by-stock and fishery by fishery basis, and to reward those fisheries that have invested in improvements by continuing to source from them.

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