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Fisheries committee calls for more study of East Coast cod, capelin stocks

OTTAWA - A House of Commons committee is urging the Fisheries Department to conduct annual studies of the northern cod population off Newfoundland and Labrador to track its recovery.

The MPs also urge annual studies of the population of capelin, a key food source for the cod.

The report of the committee on fisheries and oceans says the cod stock is slowly rebounding from the 1992 collapse which killed the commercial fishery and sent tremors through the province.

It also urges the Fisheries Department to hire more scientists to track the cod population and says the department should also limit the seal population, since those animals prey on both cod and capelin.

Finally, the MPs said the department should produce a rebuilding plan for the northern cod, with targets and timelines.

The report found some reason for optimism:

"More than two decades after the 1992 commercial offshore fishery moratorium, the decimated northern cod stock is showing signs of a slow rebuilding," the report said.

Committee chairman Scott Simms said the cod is important to Newfoundland and Labrador and its recovery has to be handled properly.

"It's so important to us," Simms said. "It's the species that maintained us on the island."

He said the report covered some of the same ground as earlier committee efforts, but "mostly it was about cod and the recovery of cod ... how do we make sure that we have a sustainable fishery for generations to come?"

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