WWF-Canada Blog:
Oceans


Changing tide on Northern cod

Last week, WWF-Canada and the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) started an exciting new harvester-driven project that aims to help an historic northern Newfoundland cod fishery return to health. This is a big deal because the fishery, which is known to us industry types as 2J3KL cod, has been under a fishing moratorium since 1992. The stock is now showing good signs of recovery and we think if it’s managed right, it will grow to healthy levels.

WWF-Canada President and CEO David Miller and FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan mark the beginning of a Fisheries Improvement Project for the historic northern Newfoundland cod fishery, (NAFO area 2J3KL) © WWF-Canada / Melanie Courage

WWF-Canada President and CEO David Miller and FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan mark the beginning of a Fisheries Improvement Project for the historic northern Newfoundland cod fishery, (NAFO area 2J3KL)
© WWF-Canada / Melanie Courage

This is the second Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) that WWF has helped develop in Newfoundland.  The first was in a small southern Newfoundland cod fishery (3Ps cod) and its success has given us some important experience that will go a long way in getting this storied northern fishery back on its feet.

NAFO area 2J3KL ©DFO

NAFO area 2J3KL ©DFO

We took a community approach when forming this new FIP, which means that WWF will be working with the key users of the resource – the fish harvesters – to ensure their knowledge and experience is incorporated into the fishery’s recovery.

Our decision to start a FIP here and now came with careful assessment of the health of the northern cod stock. It has shown clear signs of growth in some areas since 2006, and if the science is right, this could mean that it will support a commercial fishery in the future.

WWF-Canada is especially proud to be working with the support of FFAW-Unifor and the many inshore fish harvesters whose livelihoods and communities are directly affected by the fishery. We’ve also been very lucky to have the Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador (SPONL) support the effort, as well as the Fogo Island Co-Op.

There is a long road ahead, but our goal is to see 2J3KL meet or exceed the Marine Stewardship Council certification requirements for sustainable fisheries.

One of the biggest threats to healthy ocean ecosystems is the demand for and procurement of unsustainable seafood. The FIP will aid rebuilding in such a way that the fishery will meet the highest global standard for fisheries sustainability.

FFAW-Unifor Vice President of the Inshore Council and fish harvester, Tony Doyle and WWF-Canada Senior Specialist, Fisheries Conservation, Janice Ryan excited to start laying the ground work for the Northern cod Fishery Improvement Project. © WWF-Canada / Melanie Courage


  • Pat Michener

    Ever since the ’60s I have been watching the difficulties facing fish and fishers in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence and Newfoundland-Labrador waters. The good news about the return to health of the cod fisheries and the great work being done by the community, industry and WWF for sustainability is shining a bright light of hope for all.