Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Seals Blamed for Lack of Cod Recovery

              There are an estimated 300,000 seals on Sable Island, off Nova Scotia. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

A huge seal population is preventing cod stocks from rebounding off Nova Scotia, two former directors of science at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography say.

The work of Bob O'Boyle and Mike Sinclair backs what fishermen have argued for years.

"We conclude that indeed the seals are responsible for the lack of recovery of the cod," Sinclair told CBC News.

Sinclair retired as director of science at BIO in Dartmouth, N.S. He took over the job when O'Boyle left.

They decided to do their own study looking at the connection between cod and seals because they believe some other studies aren't accurate.

"Basically, we were not convinced that the studies that were out there really accurately reflected what was going on, so we thought we'd have a look at it ourselves," Sinclair said.

Commercial fishing of cod was banned on the Scotian Shelf in 1993, after decades of overfishing led to the collapse of cod stocks.

The Sable Island seal population has spiked since the 1970s, climbing from about 3,000 to 300,000, a doubling of the population every seven years.

Sinclair and O'Boyle agree with other researchers that as the number of grey seals grows, the amount of fish consumed spikes too.

Seals eat one to two tonnes of fish every year, they say.
Read more @ cbc.ca 

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