A new study Dalhousie University study on northern cod has concluded that the stock may never be able to recover to its pre-moratorium glory.

The report said human error, as well as pressure on the industry, are most likely to blame.


Dalhousie University biology professor Jeff Hutchings says decision makers in Newfoundland and Labrador did not give the cod fishery enough time to properly recover. (CBC)

Jeff Hutchings, a biology professor at Dalhousie and one of the co-authors of the study, said the size of the cod stock today is severely depleted.

"Looking at the size of the stock today compared to what it was on the '60s, it's still miniscule," Hutchings said.

"So while there's been some positive signs over the last decade, really, at the end of the day, the stock is so far below what's called its limit reference point, it isn't funny."

Hutchings said decision-makers failed to give cod stocks enough time to rejuvenate.

"There was a moratorium for a few years, but then the inshore fishery opened up again under extreme pressure in the late 1990s, then it was closed again in, I believe, 2003. Why? Because we were taking out too many fish again," he said.

"And so what happened at that time is any possible bits of recovery that might have been taking place in the late 1990s — that recovery was snuffed out because we started to fish again," Hutchings added.

Hutchings said the northern cod stocks remain at only about two or three per cent of what they were in the early 1970s.