New paper finds cod moratorium positive for diving seabirds
While the 1992 cod moratorium was certainly a game changer for the cultural and economic landscapes of this province, it also provided an unique opportunity for biologists to watch how such a drastic move would affect other species.
And cod isn’t the only species of interest. Montevecchi said vigilance is imperative, especially considering the most productive places for birds and other animals detrimentally affected by gillnets will be the places fishermen search out, too.
“The hot spots tend to be where the capelin go and that’s where the cod go. The whales follow and the seabirds follow.
“So there’s always going to be that kind of interaction and that’s what we really need to look at carefully.”
Mr. Montevecchi is also quick to point out fishermen aren’t seeking out the bycatch intentionally and have worked with biologists to reduce such negative effects.
Another interesting aspect of the paper looks not at the diving seabirds but at the surface feeders, such as gulls and kittiwakes. During the large-scale commercial fisheries, Mr. Montevecchi said tons of fish offal was available to those seabird species but that food source has been largely eliminated since the moratorium.
“So we predicted, if anything, those birds would have negative consequences.”
That is, in fact, what they found. With the buffet gone, breeding numbers decreased.
In addition to Mr. Montevecchi, Paul Regular, April Hedd, Gregory Robertson and Sabina Wilhelm were also authors of the paper. It was published in the journal, Biology Letters.
St. John’s Telegram