Atlantic cod, Gadus morphua. (Photo: Terje Engoe)
Study concludes EU Ministers’ 'irresponsibility' caused cod collapse
Friday, April 27, 2012, 01:20 (GMT + 9)
The non-government marine conservation organization Oceana warns that there is a link between the collapse status of cod from the North Sea and bad decisions taken by the Council of Fisheries Ministers of the European Union (EU).
While working on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Oceana urges Member States to give priority to the future of stocks over short-term political gains.
Based on the findings of a study carried out by Rainer Froese, a scientist specialised in fishing; and Martin Quaas, an economist expert in resources, the NGO requests members of the Council to take the necessary measures to safeguard the future of the sector and Community fishing stocks.
"For years, the Council of Fisheries Ministers has persisted in ignoring science, and this study shows one of the many consequences of its neglect and inaction," pointed out Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe.
"The Council had all the information needed to prevent the collapse of cod in the North Sea, but chose to ignore it, and now the fishing industry is suffering the consequences. European citizens trusted they would responsibly manage a public asset, and it is time our ministers acted in response to that trust."
According to the authors of the study, the closure of the cod fishery for three years could have led to the recovery of the stock and to the great compensation for the loss caused by the closure.
"The study analyzed the actual data on the recruitment of juvenile specimens, declared cod discards and prices. The only supposed figure was what would have happened with fewer captures than those determined by the Council," explained Froese.
"In other words, there is no doubt that the North Sea cod would have recovered if the Council had acted responsibly," the researcher adds.
Oceana recalls that in the past five years, EU fisheries ministers set total allowable catches (TACs) that were 40 per cent above those recommended by scientists.
"Although there are binding international targets such as reaching the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) of all stocks by 2015 and the good environmental status in European waters by 2020, many Member States still refuse to make the tough decisions necessary to achieve them," Oceana complaint.
In this sense, the NGO stresses that "often they hide behind the economic impact that the closures and quota cuts would have on the industry."
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By Analia Murias