Iceland's cod fishery making a comeback

Scientists with the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada consider cod an an endangered species — but around the coastlines of Iceland — cod is experiencing a renaissance.

Latest research shows spawning cod at highest levels in almost 50 years

Though many Canadian scientists consider Gadus morhua an endangered species — around the coastlines of Iceland — cod is experiencing a comeback.

The latest scientific data show spawning cod are at their highest levels in almost 50 years.

In fact, Icelandic fishing crews are gearing up for an even busier year catching cod.

Thorsteinn Sigurdsson is on the scientific panel that recommended Iceland increase its cod quota by 10 per cent for the 2013-2014 season.

"During the last decade or so, we have increased the biomass of spawning stock significantly as a consequence of lowering the harvest rate," said Sigurdsson.

Iceland has historically been protective of its cod. In the 1970s the country nearly went to war, when British boats fished its waters.

Then, when cod stocks starting depleting on both sides of the Atlantic, Iceland took pre-emptive measures, slashing quotas and protecting its waters from other European boats.

Sigurdsson said his country's approach is now paying off.

"We see a much higher proportion of older fish in the codfish, much better quality. Higher prices, and we get more out of it. So we've been, in a way, lucky with our experience."

Gus Etchegary, who was part of Newfoundland's cod industry during its halcyon days, is not surprised by Iceland's success.

"Their [Iceland's and Norway's] fisheries are managed ... we don't have that in Canada any more," said Etchegary. 

Etchegary added that in Canada, quotas recommended by scientists often get ignored.

"And as it goes up through management, it increases and increases, for political reasons, until the scientific data that has been provided is really useless."

After years of restraint, Norway is also preparing for a bigger cod fishery this year.