§ Lord Beaumont of Whitley
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What steps they have taken to avert a collapse of North Sea cod stocks since the 4th Report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology on Sustainable Management of North Sea Fisheries (Session 1996–97, H.L. Paper 63).
§ Lord Donoughue
In November 1997 the Advisory Committee on Fisheries Management of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advised that fishing mortality for North Sea cod has declined from record levels over the past two years and, if the current level of fishing mortality is maintained, the spawning stock biomass is expected to increase to within safe biological limits. Because of a large year class joining the fishery, maintaining the current level of fishing mortality would have resulted in a total allowable catch (TAC) of 153,000 tonnes in 1998. However, in order to continue the rebuilding of the North Sea cod stock, the Government pressed for the TAC to be set at the lower level of 140,000 tonnes and this figure has since been agreed in the annual consultations between the Community and Norway over the management of this and other North Sea stocks.67WA
The Government have also urged, and will continue to urge, the European Commission to bring forward proposals for the protection of exceptional concentrations of juvenile North Sea cod in fishing grounds. Such proposals could help to conserve the particularly large numbers of juvenile cod currently in the North Sea and ensure that greater numbers reach maturity.