FISHERIES : North Sea cod stocks come closer to extinction

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The Independent Online
Fishermen are catching up to 60 per cent of the cod in the North Sea every year - a trend which is "unsustainable" and could cause the species' population to collapse, according to a team of British, Canadian and Icelandic government scientists which publishes its research today in the science journal Nature.

The researchers recommend an overall cutback in fishing, because it is impossible to completely protect cod: when trawlers go after other bottom- dwelling fish such as haddock and whiting, they will inevitably catch cod.

The Canadian collapse forced a complete ban on cod fishing off its east coast in 1992. It could take up to 15 years for the stocks to recover. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea

(ICES), which advises fishery managers on stocks in the Atlantic, has recommended that North Sea trawler fleets immediately cut back their cod harvests by 20 to 30 percent to allow populations to recover. But this has not happened. Charles Arthur