New pa­per finds cod mora­to­rium pos­i­tive for div­ing seabirds

The Southern Gazette - - NEWS - BY JOSH PEN­NELL TC ME­DIA

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

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