May 03, 2010 16:10 ET

New Assessment Shows More Atlantic Cod Endangered

Nearly 20 years after the collapse, Canada still does not have effective recovery plans for cod-WWF-Canada

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - May 3, 2010) - Today the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) announced that cod stocks are increasingly at risk. This highlights the need for recovery plans to protect endangered stocks, according to WWF-Canada.

COSEWIC, the national advisory body on species at risk, has increased the number of Atlantic cod units listed as endangered based on assessment results released. COSEWIC has classified four of the six cod units in Canada as endangered. These findings present further evidence that Canada's management and legislative tools to prevent overfishing and to rebuild depleted fish stocks have been ineffective, and are jeopardizing Canada's export market for seafood.

Although good policy on sustainable fisheries management does exist in Canada, implementation on Atlantic groundfish fisheries has occurred slowly, if at all. Progress is needed to ensure legislative tools that enable the rebuilding of depleted stocks, such as Atlantic cod, are consistent with those used to manage stocks throughout much of Europe and the United States.

"It's time to hold the federal government accountable to manage, conserve, and develop the fisheries on behalf of Canadians", says Bettina Saier, Director, Oceans, WWF-Canada. "If the government is committed to sustainable fisheries management, then it needs to demonstrate that commitment by establishing science-determined recovery plans now."

The consumer demand for quality, sustainably-managed seafood is increasing, especially in Europe and the United States, and major national and international retailers are reacting to this demand. The growing number of companies pledging to source sustainable seafood products, coupled with the growing number of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries worldwide, will affect the ability of Atlantic Canada's cod industry to compete in the global marketplace.

COSEWIC's recent assessment confirms that recovery plans for endangered cod stocks are urgently needed to enable a profitable fishery in the long-term that meets the standards of eco-conscious retailers and consumers.

A plan that includes recovery targets and limit reference points, timelines for rebuilding, and harvest control rules based on these targets and limit reference points must be implemented for Canada's Atlantic cod stocks. The Government of Canada must also introduce language to its fisheries management policies and fishery management plans that binds the government to respect and adhere to these targets and timelines, since current legislation allows the government to make ad hoc fishery management decisions.

"Canada has an opportunity to align itself with its US and EU counterparts by introducing science-determined cod recovery plans", says Shelley Dwyer, Fisheries Conservation Advisor with WWF-Canada. "It is our responsibility to recover and maintain the health of our oceans for future generations."

About WWF-Canada

WWF-Canada (World Wildlife Fund Canada) is a member of WWF, one of the world©s largest independent conservation organizations, active in more than 100 countries. WWF is creating solutions to the most serious conservation challenges facing our planet, helping people and nature to thrive. In Canada, we create solutions to conservation issues important to Canadians and the world. WWF-Canada works collaboratively with governments, businesses and the public to help fight climate change, the single biggest environmental threat to our planet; conserve our oceans and freshwater resources; and educate and mobilize people to build a conservation culture. For more information, visit wwf.ca.

Contact Information

  • WWF-Canada, Atlantic Region
    Stacey McCarthy
    Communications Specialist
    902.482.1105 x 41 or Cell: 902.209.6457
    Bettina Saier
    Director, Oceans Program
    902.482.1105 or Cell: 902.401.9209