Call it a cod comeback, or at least the beginnings of one. The fish has been so over-exploited that eco-conscious consumers avoid it, but North Sea stocks are now rising.

Cod Norway

If the recovery continues, the fish could qualify for Marine Stewardship Council(MSC) approval, a stamp indicating that the fish meets the independent body's standards for sustainability, says a report from the MSC and other fishing organisations. This backs up a European Commission assessment from last month, which also found that cod numbers were recovering.

But it is too soon for a cod-and-chips party. "Serious concerns remain," says the commission in its assessment. The European Union has slashed cod catches and the number of days at sea boats are allowed to fish for cod. And as of last year, vessels are required to leave areas if their nets contain too many baby cod – but "more needs to be done", the commission says.

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