North Sea cod stock was previously thought to be in good health. After stocks dropped below the safe biological level, The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certificates for North Sea cod fisheries will be suspended. All MSC certified fisheries targeting the North Sea cod stock will be affected.
The causes of the decline are unclear. Scientists suggest it may be a result of factors, such as warming waters – driven by climate change – and fewer young cod surviving into adulthood for the last two years running. This decline has occurred despite industry initiatives to actively avoid catching juvenile fish including improving fishing selectivity and avoiding spawning grounds, features that were instrumental in the fishery attaining MSC certification.
“The decline in the North Sea cod stock is a worrying development, with the latest stock models suggesting that the fishery has not recovered as well as previously thought”, says Erin Priddle, UK and Ireland Programme Director for the Marine Stewardship Council. The Scottish fishing industry has committed to a five-year project, known as a Fishery Improvement Project, to return the stock to health.
The suspension will become effective as of 24 October 2019. Cod caught by these fisheries caught after this date will not be eligible to be sold with the blue MSC label.
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