Journal Article

North Sea cod recovery?

Joe Horwood, Carl O'Brien and Chris Darby

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 63, issue 6, pages 961-968
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
North Sea cod recovery?

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Recovery of depleted marine, demersal, commercial fish stocks has proved elusive worldwide. As yet, just a few shared or highly migratory stocks have been restored. Here we review the current status of the depleted North Sea cod (Gadus morhua), the scientific advice to managers, and the recovery measures in place. Monitoring the progress of North Sea cod recovery is now hampered by considerable uncertainties in stock assessments associated with low stock size, variable survey indices, and inaccurate catch data. In addition, questions arise as to whether recovery targets are achievable in a changing natural environment. We show that current targets are achievable with fishing mortality rates that are compatible with international agreements even if recruitment levels remain at the current low levels. Furthermore, recent collations of data on international fishing effort have allowed estimation of the cuts in fishing mortality achieved by restrictions on North Sea effort. By the beginning of 2005, these restrictions are estimated to have reduced fishing mortality rates by about 37%. This is insufficient to ensure recovery of North Sea cod within the next decade.

Keywords: fisheries management; fishing effort; recovery plans

Journal Article.  5439 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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