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Cod stocks' steep decline

Fisheries officials say northern cod stocks declined steeply off Newfoundland and Labrador and warn that the population could continue to decline.

A report released today says the stock dropped 30 per cent in the fishing area known as 2J3KL that stretches from southern Labrador to below the Avalon peninsula on mainland Newfoundland.

Fisheries biologist Karen Dwyer says there was a large increase in the species' natural mortality, or deaths due to factors other than fishing, such as decreases in their food sources and warming water temperatures.

Still, she says the harvest rate continued to climb in the last several years, suggesting there needs to be a renewed call for low catch rates.

But Dwyer, who presented the findings at a briefing in St. John's, N.L., says the stock remains in the critical zone after it started to show signs of recovery in 2012.

Commercial fishery was placed under a moratorium in 1992, a move that threw thousands of people out of work and sparked angry protests.



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