November 29, 2005
(Fisheries and Aquaculture)

Not listing cod as endangered right decision

Tom Rideout, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, today said the federal government�s recommendation not to add Atlantic cod to the Species at Risk Act (SARA) legal list is the right decision.

Minister Rideout said: �This recommendation is welcome news for the province and is consistent with the position put forward by our government to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has been strongly against the listing of cod stocks around Newfoundland and Labrador under SARA from the beginning, and, with a strong endorsement from both the fishing industry and the general public, we have been pressing the federal government to not list it.�

On May 2, 2003, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) released the results of its assessment of Atlantic cod and recommended listing the Newfoundland Shelf Population (2GH, 2J3KL, 3NO) as endangered, and the Laurentian North Population (3Ps, 3Pn4RS) as threatened under SARA. The recommendation not to add Atlantic cod was announced yesterday, and a final decision will be made by the federal Cabinet by April 2006.

The minister added that COSEWIC failed to consider some important information when making its assessments.

�We noted some problems with the assessments and recommendations from COSEWIC,� said Minister Rideout. �The committee made no effort to gather community knowledge from key stakeholders in the fishing industry. Furthermore, at the time of the assessment by COSEWIC, the cod population in 3Ps and 3Pn4RS had in excess of 100,000 metric tonnes of spawning stock biomass and supported a 15,000 metric tonne fishery along the south coast. Considering these numbers, surely Atlantic cod adjacent to this province is not near extinction.�

�For only these reasons alone,� continued the minister, �this province was against the listing of cod as endangered or threatened. This information clearly shows that the recommendations from COSEWIC were lacking sufficient support.�

Minister Rideout says that COSEWIC is a credible organization, but could not support their assessment of Atlantic cod adjacent to Newfoundland and Labrador.

�Our government supports the work of COSEWIC,� continued the minister. �We certainly believe that the conservation of any species is in the best interest of the province over the long-term. However, we do feel that the recommendations put forth by COSEWIC in this case were weak. We are pleased that the Government of Canada has recommended not to add Atlantic cod to the list of species protected under SARA.�

Minister Rideout says that the province does recognize that cod populations adjacent to Newfoundland and Labrador are at historically low levels, and the province is putting forth efforts to protect and rebuild the resource.

�With the fisheries management measures currently in place, including a decrease in the number of foreign fleets and increased enforcement, we believe recovery of cod stocks can be achieved,� said the minister. �Our province will continue to address the damage that foreign overfishing has inflicted on the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery. We continue to push for reform of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) and we will actively press the federal government to follow a custodial management approach to straddling stocks.�

Media contact: Lori Lee Oates, ABC, Communications, (709) 729-3733, 690-8403

2005 11 29                                    3:50 p.m.

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