The stock assessment for south coast cod is in and the outlook is still grim.
The stock has been in the critical zone for over 20 years and remains so. DFO says recruitment has been well below average since the early 1990s, and it does not expect improved numbers of young fish entering the population in the near future. Natural mortality has been at a relatively high level for the past 15 years with a slight improvement over the past two years.
Fishing levels are low but even minimal activity is slowing stock growth.
The stock lead for DFO in 3PS, Laura Wheeland, says water temperatures in 3PS were at record highs in 2021 and 2022.
She says water temperatures were at record high at the surface and the bottom of the ocean.
A rebuilding plan is in the works for the south coast cod stock.
That particular stock is an important cog in operations at Icewater Seafoods in Arnold’s Cove, allowing the company to employ about 200 plant workers nearly year-round. Other NL-based companies also have access to the stock as does St. Pierre-Miquelon.
The total allowable catch for 2023 was just over 1,300 tonnes.