Nfld. & Labrador

Smith Sound cod disappearing

The preliminary results from a survey of the Smith Sound cod stock show the population has dropped for the second year in a row.

The preliminary results from a survey of the Smith Sound cod stock show the population has dropped for the second year in a row.

Two years ago, the stock in Trinity Bay, near Clarenville, was estimated at 25,000 tonnes. Now a survey this month indicates it's 16,000 tonnes.

Researcher George Rose says that 9,000-tonne decline is a "grave concern."

Scientists say the Smith Sound stock is crucial because important because it's appears to have become the main source for cod for Newfoundland's northeast coast.

It's also the only part of the northern cod stock that grew substantially in the late 90s.

Rose says strong conservation measures are needed, including a reduction in illegal fishing.

"We've got to look at better protection from all sides for those fish if we want them to grow," Rose says. "It appears the population is declining and that I find totally unacceptable."

Federal Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault has been waiting for the survey's results. Thibault has already suggested he may shut the fishery in that area.

The Fisheries Resource Conservation Council will use the survey data collected this month and hold public hearings to make its harvesting recommendations to the minister.

Thibault expected to make a decision in late March.

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