OTTAWA, Sept. 17 (UPI) — Conservationists say data showing strong growth in cod numbers off Canada’s east coast may lead to pressure to revive commercial fishing, banned since 1994.
The World Wildlife Fund announced Thursday the cod population on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland had jumped by 69 per cent from numbers taken in 2007.
But biologist Jeff Hutchings says cod are still in a precarious state, representing just a 10th of historic levels seen in the 1960s.
Hutchings said he is worried that politicians will be lobbied to open up commercial activity.
“All too often, certain sectors of the fishing industry look to very short-term increases, think about their short-term interests and increase pressure on politicians and whomever to increase quotas,” Hutchings told Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News.
In the past, fishing interests have lobbied for commercial activity to resume before a stock can adequately recover, he said.
“Sadly, that’s been the history of fishery reopenings and catch-quota increases,” he said.
Gus Etchegary, a retired Newfoundland fisheries executive turned conservationist, said the WWF’s release is not only misleading but also potentially dangerous.
“Sixty-nine per cent of nothing is nothing,” Etchegary said.
“It’s misinformation beyond belief,” he said. “It’s creating an entirely false expectation and, unfortunately for an organization such as the WWF, it’s irresponsible.”
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