WWF blames EU for overfishing Grand Banks cod

Rob Antle
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Group claims bycatch is 70 per cent higher than NAFO target

A conservation group says the European Union (EU) is mostly responsible for a large overrun in the bycatch of cod on the Grand Banks.

WWF-Canada said Thursday that cod bycatch on the southern Grand Banks was at least 70 per cent higher than the 2008 target set by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO).

A conservation group says the European Union (EU) is mostly responsible for a large overrun in the bycatch of cod on the Grand Banks.

WWF-Canada said Thursday that cod bycatch on the southern Grand Banks was at least 70 per cent higher than the 2008 target set by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO).

According to WWF-Canada, the target was 420 tonnes. That was a reduction of 40 per cent.

But the conservation group - citing unidentified sources - said the actual total bycatch for the year came in at 713 tonnes.

Of that 713 tonnes, WWF-Canada said, the EU was responsible for 444 tonnes.

The group said the statistics are unofficial, and do not take in account misreporting and illegal activity.

"We want NAFO to signal a strong commitment to solving this problem of bycatch on the southern Grand Banks," said Robert Rangeley, WWF-Canada's vice-president Atlantic.

That, Rangeley said, means adding some "teeth" to bycatch limits. He said voluntary restrictions are not doing the job.

There are a number of other measures that can be taken, he noted, including gear modifications and choosing not to fish on spawning grounds and in areas where bycatch levels are high.

WWF-Canada believes any measures will need to be backed by monitoring and enforcement to be effective.

"But the bottom line is, if you're not serious about it and you're not going to take those extra steps, either say goodbye to cod forever, or put a hard cap on it and be serious," Rangeley noted.

Issue to be addressed

Meanwhile, NAFO spokeswoman Barbara Marshall indicated that the issue of cod bycatch in the NAFO regulatory area will be discussed by the organization's scientific council at its June meeting.

A recommendation will then be put forward to the fisheries commission for discussions and decisions in September.

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans did not return a message seeking comment before deadline.

Custodial control

Provincial Fisheries Minister Tom Hedderson said WWF-Canada's findings confirm that Ottawa should take custodial control of straddling stocks.

"NAFO has not demonstrated that they can manage the system," Hedderson said.

"We need to make sure that we are in the driver's seat ... to ensure, beyond our 200-mile limit, that we can do the enforcement and the management and the monitoring and the science that's required to truly manage this stock."

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, European Union, WWF-Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Geographic location: Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Paul
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    NAFO is just a joke. Mostly all EU countries of course and they all get a vote, and then the EU Parliament can just go ahead and set its own quotas beyond NAFO. When you look at it, except for a small chunk of France, and Greenland if you like, there is only one other country that exists in the NW of the Atlantic and that's Canada. So why are all these EU countries even allowed to be in on setting quotas? They are from another continent. Fish over there and stay out of here. For sure if we'd joined the US you wouldn't be seeing anything other than US boats around. We'd only have to fight with other states but then at least we'd have some power due to their senate style. But we joined Canada and the concept of Canada really being southern Que/Ont and the rest the colonies to make sure they stay rich. So they weren't ever going stand up for anything that had any chance of affecting that area negatively. Dump NAFO, the EU, and Canada too.

  • Penney
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Too bad the provincial government doesn't give half as much attention to the fishery as it does oil/gas/energy. In terms of employment numbers the fishery (if it were nurtured back to health) has the potential to have the greatest impact on the province - oil platforms and power stations don't employ that many people.

    Didn't they promise to pursue co-jurisdiction with the federal government - whatever happened to that? Hey Rob Antle - how about a story on broken campaign promises from the past two elections relating to the fishery?

  • Disgusted with Ottawa!
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Take a look at a picture in the address below of an Australian Navy gunboat patrolling a fishing boat illegally fishing Patagonian toothfish in waters south of Australia. Why isn't Canada doing the same?

    Australia is one of the most respected countries in the World. Canada is acting more like the European Union by allowing the pillage of the once Newfoundland and Labrador's fish resouce, but now supposedly Canada's.



    http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/cfp/external_relations/illegal_fishing_en.htm

  • Manny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    NAFO seems to be looking out for EU interests only. The EU countries have been catching many times their allowable quota since the 1960's and NAFO did nothing about it. Why would they change now?

    Then there are those wonderful custodians of the resource in Ottawa...LOL. NAFO and DFO are two of a kind, driven by corruption, greed, lies and lacking in integrity. Where is Greenpeace when you really need them?

  • Penney
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    I thought the reason Ottawa isn't doing much to protect our fishery (as Norway or Iceland protect theirs) is that NL has only 7 seats.

    Anyway, why would they want to encourage stability or growth in NL, when our communities are dying so rapidly? The presence of people has always made this place more difficult to exploit for outside interests.

  • Disgusted with Ottawa
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    There are many articles on the internet telling of Iceland's and Norway's deep fear of the EU and what it would do to its fishery, and because of their deep fear they have avoided fully immersing their countries in the European Union system.

    They are looking at ways of immersing themselves partly into the EU to avail of the things which will benefit them, but they definitely do not want their fishery to be involved and to be abused the way the EU has abused the other fisheries around the world, especially the one passed over by Newfoundland and Labrador to Ottawa in 1949 for MAINTENANCE.

    Why wasn't Ottawa so mindful of the greatest resource it had in its toolkit the fishery which was passed over by the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949?

    Of course, it wasn't a total loss to Ottawa/Canada, there is a tremendous amount of Internatioanl Trade and Foreign Affairs clout generated for Central Canada balanced on that move by Ottawa. It is a shocking and deceitful state of affairs, given our province passed that resource over to Ottawa for PROTECTION AND MAINTENANCE for future generations, instead of Otttawa vesting it with the fish destructors, who cares not about the future having fish but only today. It is pure greed on behalf of the EU and a promise broken by Canada on the reason why it took over the fishery in the first place.

    Why isn't Ottawa doing what is needed to protect our fishery against the EU the same way as Iceland and Norway?

  • Casey
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    I don't know what the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) has to do with fishing?

  • keith
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    it seems to me the EU are out to get the Cod by allowing this behavior and trying to kill the sealing industry the cod's days look to be numbered.

  • Paul
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    NAFO is just a joke. Mostly all EU countries of course and they all get a vote, and then the EU Parliament can just go ahead and set its own quotas beyond NAFO. When you look at it, except for a small chunk of France, and Greenland if you like, there is only one other country that exists in the NW of the Atlantic and that's Canada. So why are all these EU countries even allowed to be in on setting quotas? They are from another continent. Fish over there and stay out of here. For sure if we'd joined the US you wouldn't be seeing anything other than US boats around. We'd only have to fight with other states but then at least we'd have some power due to their senate style. But we joined Canada and the concept of Canada really being southern Que/Ont and the rest the colonies to make sure they stay rich. So they weren't ever going stand up for anything that had any chance of affecting that area negatively. Dump NAFO, the EU, and Canada too.

  • Penney
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Too bad the provincial government doesn't give half as much attention to the fishery as it does oil/gas/energy. In terms of employment numbers the fishery (if it were nurtured back to health) has the potential to have the greatest impact on the province - oil platforms and power stations don't employ that many people.

    Didn't they promise to pursue co-jurisdiction with the federal government - whatever happened to that? Hey Rob Antle - how about a story on broken campaign promises from the past two elections relating to the fishery?

  • Disgusted with Ottawa!
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Take a look at a picture in the address below of an Australian Navy gunboat patrolling a fishing boat illegally fishing Patagonian toothfish in waters south of Australia. Why isn't Canada doing the same?

    Australia is one of the most respected countries in the World. Canada is acting more like the European Union by allowing the pillage of the once Newfoundland and Labrador's fish resouce, but now supposedly Canada's.



    http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/cfp/external_relations/illegal_fishing_en.htm

  • Manny
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    NAFO seems to be looking out for EU interests only. The EU countries have been catching many times their allowable quota since the 1960's and NAFO did nothing about it. Why would they change now?

    Then there are those wonderful custodians of the resource in Ottawa...LOL. NAFO and DFO are two of a kind, driven by corruption, greed, lies and lacking in integrity. Where is Greenpeace when you really need them?

  • Penney
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    I thought the reason Ottawa isn't doing much to protect our fishery (as Norway or Iceland protect theirs) is that NL has only 7 seats.

    Anyway, why would they want to encourage stability or growth in NL, when our communities are dying so rapidly? The presence of people has always made this place more difficult to exploit for outside interests.

  • Disgusted with Ottawa
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    There are many articles on the internet telling of Iceland's and Norway's deep fear of the EU and what it would do to its fishery, and because of their deep fear they have avoided fully immersing their countries in the European Union system.

    They are looking at ways of immersing themselves partly into the EU to avail of the things which will benefit them, but they definitely do not want their fishery to be involved and to be abused the way the EU has abused the other fisheries around the world, especially the one passed over by Newfoundland and Labrador to Ottawa in 1949 for MAINTENANCE.

    Why wasn't Ottawa so mindful of the greatest resource it had in its toolkit the fishery which was passed over by the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949?

    Of course, it wasn't a total loss to Ottawa/Canada, there is a tremendous amount of Internatioanl Trade and Foreign Affairs clout generated for Central Canada balanced on that move by Ottawa. It is a shocking and deceitful state of affairs, given our province passed that resource over to Ottawa for PROTECTION AND MAINTENANCE for future generations, instead of Otttawa vesting it with the fish destructors, who cares not about the future having fish but only today. It is pure greed on behalf of the EU and a promise broken by Canada on the reason why it took over the fishery in the first place.

    Why isn't Ottawa doing what is needed to protect our fishery against the EU the same way as Iceland and Norway?

  • Casey
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    I don't know what the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) has to do with fishing?

  • keith
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    it seems to me the EU are out to get the Cod by allowing this behavior and trying to kill the sealing industry the cod's days look to be numbered.