What in Cod’s name is going on

Radio 4’s tomorrow programme carried a report today that between 40%-60% of all cod caught in the North Sea is thrown back dead in order to comply with quotas. This is an EU Commission sourced statistic.

By the time the fish have been sorted on board the boats, most of the fish are dead. However, because the quotas restrict the volume of cod that can be landed, they have to be discarded in the sea.

Some conservationists on the programme suggested using technologies to only catch certain fish – unfortunately the fish aren’t playing along and enter the nets anyway.

When regulators interfere with markets with good intentions, unforeseen and harmful consequences can often arise. This is a perfect example. The quotas are designed to protect and preserve cod stock in the North Sea, but they only work to stop the fish being landed. The idea of not rewarding fishermen for “accidentally” catching the wrong fish makes sense – getting them to dump it instead, plainly doesn’t.

The response from the Government Minister invited to appear on the programme was …….. to propose increasing the quotas such that more could be landed. Whilst it may reduce the “waste”, that doesn’t appear to deal with the shortage issue.


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