Ireland’s Marine Institute and AFBI (Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute) in Northern Ireland are offering the fishing industry a financial reward to report the capture of tagged cod in the Irish Sea, reports Pauric Gallagher.

Cod are being tagged in the Irish Sea as part of a project that will run for three years; tagging began in 2016 and will continue into 2018. The project will enable three research agencies; the Marine Institute in the Republic of Ireland, AFBI in Northern Ireland and CEFAS in the United Kingdom to develop a better understanding of cod mortality, abundance, distribution and movement patterns within the Irish Sea and surrounding areas.

Emma White from the Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Service at the Marine Institute said that with a low population of cod in the Irish Sea, it is vital that this stock is investigated.

Although the European Commission established measures to aid recovery in 2000, the stock has not responded as expected, and the population of cod in the Irish Sea remains low in 2017.

Ms White told Fishing News: “A huge effort will be made to tag several thousand cod in the Irish Sea over the next three years. AFBI and the Marine Institute have been using every opportunity to tag as many cod as possible, working with both commercial and recreational fishermen. Since commencing the project there have been over 2,000 cod tagged, ranging in size from 23cm-110cm. We have received 22 returns (cod that we’ve tagged and released, that have been caught again) so far, from French producers and Irish, Northern Irish and French fishermen.”

Pieter-Jan Schon, head of Fisheries and Aquatic Ecosystems at AFBI said: “Significant effort has been made to recover stocks of Irish Sea cod, including the introduction of highly selective gears to reduce by-catch rates, management of fishing effort directed on cod, and seasonal area closures to protect spawning aggregations. However, there still remains a need to better understand the factors that affect the Irish Sea cod stock. The project relies on collaboration with the fishing industry; any recaptured tagged cod can provide useful information. Building on existing science and industry partnerships is essential if we wish to achieve a sustainable and profitable fishing industry in the Irish Sea.”

€25 will be awarded for cod captured with a red tag, and €75 for cod with a blue, yellow or pink tag. The cod must be stored whole and ungutted on ice, with the tag in place. The date and location (longitude and latitude) of capture, length of the fish, tag colour and its number should also be recorded.

Tagged cod can be reported to Emma White at the Marine Institute on: +353 91 387 200, and to AFBI on:

The Marine Institute/AFBI will organise the collection of tagged cod captured.

Funding for the project is being provided through the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) under the European Commission.

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