AGC Welcomes More Positive Perspective of Northern Cod Status

Today, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) held a briefing on the latest scientific review of the 2J3KL Northern cod stock off the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The review used a wider suite of data and a more complete timeline, which resulted in a revised Limit Reference Point (LRP) for this iconic stock. Under DFO’s Precautionary Approach framework, the LRP is the boundary line between the Critical and Cautious Zone (see graphic below). As a result, the Northern cod stock is now considered to be above the Critical Zone and in the Cautious Zone.

Over the past decade, Northern cod demonstrated positive growth that subsequently stalled. “We eagerly await the March stock assessment that will hopefully have a full suite of projections, including a wide range of candidate harvest rates,” says Vanessa Byrne, Director of Fisheries Management and Science with the Atlantic Groundfish Council. “This will enable decision makers to better understand the effect that different catch levels may have on stock growth.”

“Based on reports from the 2023 Stewardship Fishery, we are cautiously optimistic that the upcoming DFO research vessel survey may confirm a continued rebuilding of this stock,” added Alberto Wareham, President of Icewater Seafoods, a family company that is the largest cod processor in Canada.

“The return of a commercial cod fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador is something we are all hopeful for and committed to,” added Blaine Sullivan, President of Ocean Choice International, whose family has been harvesting cod for generations. “But it is important that Canada continues its responsible stewardship of this iconic cod stock.”

The Atlantic Groundfish Council and its members have demonstrated a deep commitment to the recovery of the Northern cod stock by leading a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) with the Association of Seafood Producers. The FIP is filling knowledge gaps identified collectively by industry, academia and government and includes a multi-million dollar world class acoustic tracking project that will help define the migration patterns of Northern cod, necessary for good management.

About the Atlantic Groundfish Council
The Atlantic Groundfish Council is a non-profit industry association representing year-round groundfish harvesters in Atlantic Canada. Its members employ thousands of people, mostly in year-round jobs in rural communities throughout Atlantic Canada. The Council contributes to research that will improve the sustainability and management of groundfish fisheries by actively supporting science, sustainability certifications and responsible management.


Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Areas Map









DFOs Precautionary Approach