How the revival of cod is pointing the way to save fish stocks

The efforts of North Sea fisheries to save depleted cod stocks could be a model for other areas blighted by overfishing

The World Today
Published 11 December 2015 Updated 11 December 2020 2 minute READ

Samuel Stone

Fisheries and aquaculture programme coordinator, Marine Conservation Society

Over the past 30 years, there have been many examples of overfishing, but few have been as public and high profile as for Atlantic cod. The species, known for its firm white flesh, has been a favourite among consumers on both sides of the

Atlantic for centuries, but the lack of fisheries controls and changing oceanic conditions led to severe declines in several populations in the 1980s and 90s. The total population in the North Sea went from 1.3 million tonnes in the early 1970s, down to only 125,000 tonnes in 2004.

Such enormous declines captured public concern and led to conservation efforts by fisheries around the world. In the mid to late 1990s conservation programmes aimed at the consumer were launched, leading to increasing public scrutiny of fisheries management and policy.

In the past 10 to 15 years the North Sea cod fishery has been the focus of a huge amount of work and investment from industry, governments and NGOs. Measures undertaken include:

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