Cod we have known: an individual-based perspective on Atlantic cod in the North Sea

CEES Extra seminar by David Righton & Julian Metcalfe from Cefas.


Atlantic cod has been a valuable commercial species since the time of the Vikings, but heavy exploitation of cod began in earnest in the 20th century. During that time, fisheries science has seen the development of complex mathematical models to help assess and manage fish stocks. Despite these advances, fisheries models still depend upon the quality of the assumptions and knowledge that are used to construct them. In the case of cod, much of this valuable species’ ecology has been poorly understood because observing cod in their natural environment is both difficult and costly. In recent years, however, sophisticated electronic devices or tags have been developed that can be attached to cod (and other species) to record their movements, habitat selection and behaviour. These devices have helped make significant progress in our understanding of how cod behave. In this talk, we will revisit some of the fundamental aspects of cod fisheries management, and update it with the understanding that has developed from recent studies using electronic tags and other modern technology. In particular, we will highlight our current understanding of how UK cod stocks are structured, how the vulnerability of cod to capture varies through the year, and what we might expect to happen to cod as the seas and climate warms. Our goal is to show that the data collected using a range of different scientific techniques can be used to build a comprehensive understanding of how animals interact with their environment, and that this understanding is crucial to help develop the fisheries management aimed at stock recovery under climatically uncertain conditions.

David Righton & Julian Metcalfe
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Lowestoft, UK

Published Jan. 7, 2015 11:19 AM - Last modified Feb. 10, 2015 9:53 AM