- Mature Cod Stocks Dwindle in North Sea
- China Deploys 1,000 Fishing Boats to Disputed Island Chain
- Canadian Harp Seal Pups Saved from Certain Death
Recent surveys conducted on catches in European ports revealed that not a single cod caught in the last year was over the age of 13. Cod can enjoy a life span of up to 25 years, during which time they become more fertile as they mature, but do not reach sexual maturity until the age of 4. The maximum age of catch hovering around 13 means that life expectancy for cod in the North Sea has declined sharply, which has implications for the future of the fishery. At the peak of cod population in the North Sea in 1971, roughly 276,000 tons were aged 3 or older. Today, that number stands at just 65,300 tons. Analysis of the most recent data suggests that there are fewer sexually mature individuals left in the North Sea than ever before. The annual catch quota for cod in the North Sea is 32,000 tons.
In response to Japan’s move to nationalize 3 of the islands in a chain of islands known by the Japanese as the Senkaku Islands, China has deployed roughly 1,000 fishing vessels to the region in protest. The island chain, known in China as the Diaoyu Islands, has been the source of controversy between China and Japan since possible undersea oil reserves were discovered near the islands in 1968. Although administration of the islands was transferred from the US to Japan in 1972, China maintains it discovered and has controlled the islands since the 14th century, and claims it as a traditional fishing zone. Japan announced last week that it had purchased 3 of the islands in the chain from a private owner, enraging the Chinese government who claims sovereignty over the region.
A pair of harp seal pups that were taken from the wild by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and given to the Aquarium des Iles to display to the public have narrowly avoided a death sentence, thanks in part to more than 140,000 signatures gathered on a petition to see them released rather than euthanized. After supplying the pups to the aquarium, the DFO itself recommended that the staff euthanize the pups at the end of their tourist season on September 15, rather than release them back into the wild, stating that the pups could contaminate wild harp seals and other animals. In response to the petition for their release, Aquarium des Iles issued a statement entreating those who had signed the petition to contribute to a fundraising goal of $73,000 to compensate for the pups’ “daily needs for food, employees caring for the seals and their diet, infrastructure utilization costs, essential elements to ensure the animal’s well-being until their transfer” speaking of a possible deal made with a French aquarium. Shortly after the aquarium posted their pleas for funding on their Facebook page, the DFO announced that they had given the aquarium permission to release the pups back into the wild.