Fishery and environmental aspects relevant for the emergence and decline of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in west Greenland waters

Fishery and environmental aspects relevant for the emergence and decline of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in west Greenland waters

H. Hovgård and K. Wieland

Fishery and environmental aspects relevant for the emergence and decline of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in west Greenland watersThis is part of Resiliency of Gadid Stocks to Fishing and Climate Change
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Description

Historical information dating back from the seventeenth century
indicates that the occurrence of Atlantic cod in Greenland waters was episodic and varied as a result of changes in the marine environment. The general warming in the beginning of the twentieth century led to the establishment of a self-sustaining and very abundant stock at West Greenland, which through the 1930s and 1960s frequently produced rich year classes. However, even in this period the productivity of the West Greenland cod stock appeared to be substantially lower than other North Atlantic stocks. A prolonged period of decline in stock biomass was observed in 1950-1975, which can be attributed to excessive fishing. The stock collapsed completely in the beginning of the 1990s, and in 2005 the first clear sign of new recruitment was seen. These recruits originated from spawning in Icelandic waters and, if protected from fishing, may start a rebuilding of the spawning stock in Greenland waters, which may then allow a sustainable exploitation as long as the recent favorable environmental conditions prevail in the future.

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