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Consultation Workbook of Atlantic Cod of Newfroundland and Labrador

Cod-Newfoundland and Labrador population

Specie informations

Cod – Newfoundland and Labrador population of Atlantic cod (2GHJ3KLNO)

Cod in this population inhabit the waters ranging from immediately north of Cape Chidley (northern tip of Labrador) southeast to Grand Bank off eastern Newfoundland. For management purposes, cod in this population are treated as three separate stocks by DFO: Northern Labrador cod (NAFO Divisions 2GH); "Northern" cod, i.e., those found off southeastern Labrador, the Northeast Newfoundland Shelf, and the northern half of Grand Bank (NAFO Divisions 2J3KL); and Southern Grand Bank cod (NAFO Divisions 3NO). Cod in this population are at historically low levels of abundance. The three-generation rate of decline experienced by the Newfoundland and Labrador population was 97%.

Cosewic assessment

COSEWIC assessed four populations of Atlantic cod in May 2004: the Newfoundland and Labrador population, Laurentian North population, Maritimes population, and the Arctic population.  This workbook only deals with the Newfoundland and Labrador population of Atlantic cod (2GHJ3KLNO). COSEWIC provides the following rational for designating the Newfoundland and Labrador population of Atlantic cod Endangered:

“Cod in the inshore and offshore waters of Labrador and northeastern Newfoundland, including Grand Bank, having declined 97% since the early 1970s and more than 99% since the early 1960s, are now at historically low levels. There has been virtually no recovery of either the abundance or age structure of cod in offshore waters since the moratoria imposed in 1992 and 1993. Threats to persistence include fishing (now halted), predation by fish and seals, and natural and fishing-induced changes to the ecosystem.”

Threats to cod

 COSEWIC provides the following overview of threats for the cod:

  1. “Fishing (including legal, illegal and unreported catches), notably on northern cod. “
  2. “Fishing-induced and natural changes to the ecosystem, resulting in altered levels of inter-specific competition and predation, notably predation by seals and fish on northern cod.”
  3. “Alteration of the bottom habitat by fishing gear represents a potential but unevaluated threat.”

Protecting cod

 If added to Schedule 1 of SARA, there would be prohibitions on killing, harming, harassing, capturing, taking, buying, or selling of individuals of the Newfoundland and Labrador population of Atlantic cod. Only under certain circumstances could fishing for this population of cod be allowed. These reasons include: (1) scientific research that benefits the species, (2) activity that benefits the species or is required to enhance its chances of survival in the wild, (3) affecting the species is incidental to the carrying out of the activity, as long as the activity will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the population. In cases where cod is taken as by catch in other fisheries, it may be difficult to limit catches of cod without affecting landings of the target species.

Potential impacts on stakeholders

If added to the list of Wildlife Species at Risk the Newfoundland and Labrador population of Atlantic cod would be protected. If particular activities are assessed to be a threat to the survival and recovery of a listed species, management measures would be put in place to limit those activities and ensure the protection of species at risk.

These measures may lead to a variety of impacts on stakeholders, including additional costs.  The following list of stakeholders is not exhaustive; please use this consultation as an opportunity to list omissions:


Management strategies that could affect aboriginal people fishing for commercial species in areas inhabited by cod may be considered.

Fishing Industry

If a particular fishing activity is identified to be a threat to the survival of a listed species, management measures will be taken to address the threat.  These measures could include gear modifications, fisheries closures, increased observer coverage, closed areas, or other measures developed in collaboration with industry that will help prevent and minimize interactions.

Oil and Gas Industry

 The effects of the oil and gas industry on groundfish populations are poorly understood. Seismic testing may have a deleterious effect on demersal fish, eggs and larvae. Proposed oil and gas activities that fall under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) will be required to address the impacts on SARA listed species in accordance with this legislation.

Research activity

 Those wishing to carry out research on cod or in areas of their habitat may be required to comply with strict guidelines.  This may limit the types and/or durations of research permitted and may lengthen the preparation time required for planning research projects.


COSEWIC 2003. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Atlantic cod Gadus morhua, Newfoundland and Labrador population, Laurentian North population, Maritimes population, Arctic population in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. Xi + 76 pp.

Newfoundland and Labrador Population of Atlantic Cod

The government's decision on whether or not to list a species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) will be based on a full description and understanding of the costs and benefits of the impacts of protection and recovery on individuals, organizations, Aboriginal groups, industries, and Canadian society in general.

This survey form can be used to provide your opinions about listing the Newfoundland and Labrador Population of Atlantic cod under SARA as an endangered species.  Comments are welcome from individuals of all backgrounds, whether you are engaged in activities that may be affected by Atlantic cod conservation efforts or are a citizen with an interest in Atlantic cod.  For the purpose of this workbook survey, Newfoundland and Labrador population of Atlantic cod means 2GHJ3KLNO.