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LETTER: Some suggestions on preserving northern cod stocks

Cod - Department of Fisheries and Oceans

The following is in response to the article entitled “Oceana Canada critical of 2020 management plan for northern cod.” (The Telegram, July 11.)

It is good to see the direction Oceana Canada is taking on the issue of rebuilding of the Northern Cod off Canada’s East Coast. Although they base their information on science there are other variables that you must consider to understand the full picture.

I fear that they are following the lead of so many groups before them who went on the attack for personal gain.

We have had enough of that.

I am outlining some considerations for them to factor into their study to understand this complex subject. If they are serious about helping cod to rebuild then address the issue of food, predation, acoustic blasting, and more importantly, insist that External Affairs and misguided bureaucrats and politicians let DFO do its job.

1. Dependency on this resource by coastal communities for food goes far beyond tradition.

2. Seal predation, particularly harp seals are not only keeping cod stocks low but caplin as well.

3. Harvesting methods for cod: night sets using gill nets must be banned. Cod pots are proving to be a good harvesting practice.

4. External Affairs must stop dictating fisheries policies. Priority must be given to conservation rather than trading fish as a commodity (ie caplin as a commodity.)

5. Caplin which is a critical keystone species must never be fished again commercially. Cod depend on caplin for their survival. Allowing the cod stock to grow is totally illogical if they have nothing to eat. If you really want to help build the cod stock, it is critical that the caplin fishery end immediately. Study this in depth.

6. End the commercial harvest of caplin and nature will take care of cod. This is a common-sense fact that isn’t resonating with bureaucrats.

7. The lucrative billion-dollar crab fishery will collapse if cod reach historical levels. The main predator of crab is cod. It is an industry which is vital to the survival of the inshore fishery. When cod were abundant the crab fishery was only a shadow of what it is today. There must be a balance in the equation.

8. Acoustic blasting has been proven to be detrimental to phytoplankton. Phytoplankton are the main food source for caplin and krill. Krill are not nearly as abundant as they used to be. Cod feed heavily on krill when caplin are not available.

Boyd Winsor


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