Nfld. & Labrador

Key cod stock under assessment

Scientists will be in Smith Sound, Trinity Bay this weekend, trying to find out whether the local cod population is in trouble.

Scientists will be in Smith Sound, Trinity Bay this weekend, trying to find out whether the local cod population is in trouble.

The stock from the area near Clarenville was the only population of northern cod to increase substantially during the 1990s, but last year's survey showed a slight decline.

Only local boats are allowed to fish in the area, but scientists say the stock migrates as far as Bonavista Bay during the summer.

Scientist George Rose of Memorial University says that allows the stock to be heavily fished by boats and seals. He says most of the cod taken in the northeast coast's inshore fishery probably comes from Smith Sound.

Rose says he thinks mortality rates have increased, and he wants to determine whether the death rates are too high to keep the stock healthy.

Fishermen such as Gary Monks say if the stock is to be preserved, something has to be done about seals, as well.

"They're a major part of the problem, I've been preaching that for years." Monks says. "There's only one way to protect the stock, and that's to kill a whole bunch of seals."

Monks doesn't think the federal government has the political will to cull the harp seal population.

The scientists will use the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Teleost to conduct their survey of Smith Sound. It's part of the annual northern cod assessment.

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