The director of Norway's Institute of Marine Research says that it is premature to put cod on the list of endangered species. The United Nations agency CITES is preparing a new list and regulations.
Several environmental organizations regard the cod as threatened, and in Sweden the public is encouraged to stop eating the regional staple. With this background, there are growing concerns in Norway that the fish may end up on the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) list. Cod is among Norway's most important fishery export items.
Åsmund Bjordal, director of Norway's Institute of Marine Research, despairs at the soup being made by some environmental groups by blending threats to stock levels and threats to industry, as well as referring to Norwegian cod as if it were a specific species. There are 20-30 types of cod being fished in the North Atlantic.
"For the Barents Sea cod, which is the most important for our fisheries, it is correct to say that the spawning stock level is under the ideal, and the pressure to fish is too high. The population can, in our opinion, become so reduced that it would create problems for fisheries. But putting the Barents Sea cod on a list of endangered species is going too far," Bjordal said.
Cod fishing in Norwegian waters remains at the level it was 10 years ago. Norway owns a 17 percent share of cod fished in the North Sea.
Bjordal believes that if cod are classified as an endangered species then in practice most of the fish in the sea could make the list.