Celtic Explorer departs St. John's on northern cod fishery mission
A fisheries vessel departed St. John's Tuesday with a 30-day mission to study the northern cod fishery, part of a five-year research project.
The Celtic Explorer is headed to the Hamilton Bank region, which scientists believe was devastated by overfishing and where cod stocks have yet to see signs of recovery.
Scientists aboard the Celtic Explorer will make their way up north, weather and ice permitting, to study the old spawning grounds for northern cod.
George Rose, the research scientist who is who's leading the mission, said the area was the "heart and soul" of the northern cod stocks for years.
"I always considered it was the kind of engine that drove the whole thing," he said.
Rose said the stock was torn apart, but there may still be hope — and he's hoping the mission will show that.
"It went down really quickly about 25 years ago and I expect there's some evidence now that it is starting to rebuild and that would be major, major news," he said.
Rose, who will retire as the head of the province's fisheries research division later this year, said a recovering stock would mean the nursery that had northern cod going for hundreds — maybe thousands — of years could slowly be getting back into production.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government will have to negotiate a new contract for use of the Celtic Explorer, as the current contract with the Irish research vessel expires in March 2016.