Federal officials declare cowcod stock as rebuilt

A fishery once overfished is now replenished and recovered ahead of schedule, according to Pacific Fishery Management Council.

STATEWIDE—The Pacific Fishery Management Council has declared cowcod stock, once overfished as a species, to be fully replenished and rebuilt ahead of schedule. Officials previously forecast the species would not be rebuilt until 2090 – which means the cowcod stock bounced back 71 years earlier than anticipated.

Cowcod was under strict conservation measure since 2000, when it was declared as an overfished species. The groundfish species live long lives but are slow-growing.

“Under the original rebuilding plan, the stock was expected to rebuild by 2090. Improved science and understanding of this stock’s population dynamics allowed the Council’s management measures to rebuild much quicker than originally anticipated,” Pacific Fishery Management Council staff said in a released statement.

Pacific Fishery Management Council staff added cowcod is now the ninth West Coast groundfish to “rebuild through stringent management measures.”

The yelloweye rockfish is not the only federally managed groundfish stock still under a mandated rebuilding plan.

“The cowcod assessment was developed by scientists at National Marine Fisheries Service Southwest Fisheries Science Center and was reviewed by a stock assessment review panel, which includes independent scientists, and endorsed by the council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee,” Pacific Fishery Management Council staff stated. “New harvest specifications and regulations informed by this assessment are expected to be put in place beginning in 2021.”

No word on why the cowcod stock required 90 years to be rebuilt or why the stock managed to beat it recovery forecast by 71 years.

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