A number of cod fisheries should be closed in EU waters, according to the latest scientific advice from the independent International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

Moratorium on cod fisheries

The advice from ICES is to close all fisheries catching cod either as a target species or as by-catch in the Eastern Channel, Skagerrak, North Sea, Irish Sea and west of Scotland. As cod is caught along with a number of other species, this would mean a moratorium on most demersal fisheries in the areas concerned. Such measures would affect haddock, whiting and probably Nephrops fisheries. The advice on cod and other fish stocks in the northeast Atlantic is available on the ICES website.

Scientists have for several years been warning about the growing depletion of a number of fish stocks, in particular cod. Franz Fischler, Commissioner responsible for Agriculture, Rural development and Fisheries commenting on the alarming new advice said: "I don't want to say 'I told you so'. But it is galling, after repeatedly warning of the dire consequences of inaction, to see our worst fears realised and to be now faced with recommendations for a moratorium on some cod fisheries. It is clear that in the absence of effective conservation and control measures these stocks are being persistently overfished. Previous data were distorted by misreporting of catches and illegal landings. We now have to recognise that the state of these stocks has never been worse."