"Crisis In The North Sea" - The declining numbers of Cod in the North Sea. The problems and solutions.

Essay by Adam720High School, 10th gradeA, March 2003

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Cod are a very valuable source of food, as they are a source for cod-liver oil. In the past cod have also formed a profitable fishery in the North Atlantic, to which England, France and Portugal all began to send boats yearly in the 16th century. Such fishing nowadays is still a very important part of the economy in countries such as Iceland and Great Britain. The decline of fish stocks has made the remaining sources vital enough to cause aggressive confrontation, for instance the Cod War in 1973 where Royal Navy frigates clashed with Icelandic gunboats in what for Iceland was a war of national survival.

Right now cod is to be added to the list of endangered species by WWF, which fears that Britain's traditional dish of fish and chips is to disappear along with thousands of fishing industry jobs. WWF says the species is threatened with virtual extinction by overfishing.

According to scientists, cod are "outside safe biological limits", which means there may not be enough breeding stock left to stop the species from disappearing. Most cod are now caught between two and four years before they reach sexual maturity. Cod stocks in the North Sea are down to one-tenth of the level 30 years ago. The catch used to be 250,000 tons a year but the maximum permitted cod catch this year under EU rules is 34,301 tons, but even this seems far too high. Scientists fear that North Sea cod may go the way of those on the Canadian east coast cod fisheries, where overfished stocks disappeared in 1992 and have not yet revived. Elliott Morely, the UK fisheries minister, said the North Sea cod's plight had been caused over 20 years by the failure of EU and successive fisheries ministers to take scientific advice...