Quirks & Quarks

The Cod Came Back

The Newfoundland Cod fishery was closed in 1992 when overfishing destroyed the stock. Now, more than two decades later, there are strong signs of recovery.

The Newfoundland Northern Cod are showing signs of recovery

Dr. Rose's co-author Dr. Sherrylynn Rowe with a large cod being tagged and released (Victoria Neville)
In 1992, the federal government was forced to close the Newfoundland cod fishery, after years of over-exploitation and mismanagement led to a complete collapse of one of the most productive fish stocks in the world. Initial hopes for a quick recovery of cod populations faded, as years passed, leading some to doubt whether they'd ever come back.

But now, more than two decades after the collapse, Dr George Rose, a fisheries scientist and Honorary Research Professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, says that there's strong evidence that the cod population is starting to come back, with growing numbers appearing in critical parts of their habitat.

Dr. Rose is uncertain whether the recent growth in fish populations is going to continue uninterrupted, but if it did so, there is the possibility that the cod could return to a commercially viable stock.

Related Links

Paper in the Canadian Journal  of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
- National Research Council Press release
Q&A with Dr. Rose at the NRC Press
CBC News story
Scientific American story