For many years now, cod stocks in the North Sea, the North Western Waters and other European fishing zones have been under threat. Over-exploitation of fish stocks in these waters led to the introduction of the EU ‘Common Fisheries Policy’ in 1983, and, more recently in 2004, a ‘Cod Recovery Plan’, which was a long term management plan to promote conditions to enable cod stocks to increase. The Cod Recovery Plan placed restrictions on the amount of time European fishermen are allowed to spend at sea, as well as allocating a quota (total allowable catch). In 2011, this plan is under review.

In June 2011, the CCRI was commissioned to carry out a study of the social and economic impacts of the Cod Recovery Plan. In order to do this, the CCRI asked fishermen to tell them about the impacts that the Cod Recovery Plan has had on their businesses and their ideas about how the policy could be improved. Fishermen were given the option of a telephone interview, or the completion of an online questionnaire, which was available in both English and French. The findings will inform future discussions regarding the Cod Recovery Plan.

The research was sponsored by the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, in collaboration with the NSRAC (North Sea Regional Advisory Council) and NWW-RAC (North West Waters Regional Advisory Council). The CCRI staff involved in the project were John Powell, Matt Reed and Nick Lewis.