Are there really only 100 cod left in the North Sea?  By masa from JAPAN (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Are there really only 100 cod left in the North Sea?


Demise of the North Sea Cod?

A British newspaper recently featured an article that claimed there were only about 100 wild cod left in the North Sea. Other newspapers in Canada and Britain picked up the story and the theme quickly spread.

However, the Sunday Times used a different model to reach their conclusion.

According to British government researchers the paper misunderstood the provided data and claimed an adult cod as a senior citizen at 13.

The article proceeded to state that since there were less than 60 cod of that age caught in the last 30 years then the cod population itself must be minimal.

Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead highlighted scientific research which estimates there are about 21 million mature cod, equal to about 65,000 tonnes.

Mr Lochhead said: “The facts show that since 2006 the cod stock has been gradually improving. Scotland has played a big part in this by achieving the EU’s biggest reductions in the cod discards, while we have led the way with sustainable fishing initiatives.

“Our catch quota trials uses CCTV monitoring has been able to eliminate cod discards for the fishermen involved.”

North Sea cod begin to mature between the ages of one and two years. By six cod are fully mature and have lifespans of up to 11 years.

The Sunday Times admitted that the headline over simplified the issue and that they were referring to North Sea cod over the age of 13.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has stated that there are “around 21 million mature cod in the north sea”. It says “there are a small number of cod over the age of 12 years old which has always been the case in the North Sea even when fished at lower levels in the 1950s and 1960s”.