Fishermen and scientists in Norway agree they’ve never seen as much cod as they’re catching now, and they say melting Arctic ice is the reason.
“On behalf of future generations, I’m truly glad,” fisherman Kaare Ludvigsen told broadcaster NRK.
Researchers have said melting ice has opened up larger areas of shallower Arctic water in the Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea into which young fish can flee predators. They confirm their test catches have turned up record numbers of yearlings destined to become commercial fish — they say 120 billion “individuals”.
In contrast to Atlantic Canada, where the cod fishery collapsed in the 1980s due to overfishing, Norway’s commercial cod banks are the richest in the world. Coastal waters stretching into the Arctic from the Lofoten Islands to the Svalbard archipelago are the site of spawning for three types of migrating cod schools.
That migration now runs farther north than ever, and Russian and Norwegian researchers have found spawning fish in the high latitudes.
Such is the cod’s new clout that Norwegian fishermen are worried the seabed where the fish dine will be stripped clean for future generations of cod. They have also asked for larger quotas to fish to make room for other species.
Ludvigsen’s fishermen colleagues met in Trondheim this week to discuss whether there were “too many” fish in the sea and agreed to more than double their catch in 2012 to 751,000 tonnes.
Norway exported a record 1.12 billion kroner worth of wild cod in September, but not since the starvation years post-World War II has there been so much cod to catch.
In the Arctic, meanwhile, seasonal ice floes have shrunk to their smallest covering in 8,000 years.