Depleted Atlantic fish stocks 'failing to recover'

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The Independent Online

Fish stocks in the north Atlantic have failed to recover from decades of overfishing, scientists have discovered.

Fish stocks in the north Atlantic have failed to recover from decades of overfishing, scientists have discovered.

Attempts at limiting the overexploitation have not resulted in numbers increasing to any serious extent, according to research published in the journal Nature by Jeffrey Hutchings, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

He said: "There is very little evidence for rapid recovery from prolonged declines, in contrast to the perception that marine fishes are highly resilient to large population reductions."

An analysis of 90 fish stocks, including cod and haddock, found they there were far more vulnerable to over-exploitation than previously assumed. Only herring and related species that mature early in life showed any signs of a comeback.

"Although the effects of overfishing on single species may generally be reversible, the actual time required for recovery appears to be considerable," Dr Hutchings said.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the Atlantic cod as "vulnerable" in 1996. Other species classified in risk categories include the Pacific sardine, haddock, Bering wolffish, Atlantic halibut and yellowtail flounder.

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