Magazine article Geographical

Plenty More Fish in the Sea?

Magazine article Geographical

Plenty More Fish in the Sea?

Article excerpt

EDITORIAL What is the matter with cod? This was the question on which one of Britain's most distinguished biological oceanographers, Dr Martin Angel of the Southampton Oceanography Centre, shed some light at a recent Society lecture. Dr Angel hooked the audience's attention as he evaluated the reasons why cod stocks have dwindled in the North Atlantic over the course of the past century.

Although cod can live for up to 20 years, most are caught when they are 2-5 years old, which plays havoc with their spawning potential. A close look at cod fishing in Newfoundland revealed that the ruthless exploitation made possible by the introduction of steam trawlers and refrigeration eventually led to a decline in catch size of 98 per cent between 1962 and 1995. This horrendous crash in the fishery prompted the introduction of regulations that, in turn, led to a staggering ten per cent decline in the region's human population, highlighting the community's dependence on the fishing industry for employment. Seals became a politically convenient scapegoat for the decline, although biologists still believe that the real cause was simply overfishing.

Climate oscillations also appear to have had a crucial role ill the disastrous decline in cod stocks. …

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