Greenpeace launches spoof ad campaign: "There's probably no Cod."

Feature story - August 10, 2009
Greenpeace has launched an ad campaign on buses and a billboard in Halifax and on a billboard in Ottawa that reads: “There’s probably no cod. Now let’s stop overfishing & think of the future.”

Greenpeace's billboard

The simple message highlights the growing and devastating problem of overfishing. Atlantic cod are a perfect case in point: if you overfish a species faster than it can rebuild itself to a healthy population size, you run the risk of fishing it to extinction.

The campaign may have a familiar ring to it. It is modeled on the controversial humanist/atheist 'There's probably no God' campaign that has lined buses in cities around the world and been banned in some cities. Ottawa city council originally denied the request to run the ad on city buses, but later reversed its decision.

Even the once ubiquitous cod, the backbone and heartbeat of many Atlantic communities for decades, can be wiped out with our technology and perseverance. While their inability to recover has now become complicated by issues such as changed predator-prey relationships and warmer waters from climate change, the fact remains that when you overfish a species, it's only a matter of time until there's probably none left.

The science

The release of a scientific report last fall predicting the inevitable demise of the southern gulf cod stock off Newfoundland, once the third largest population, confirms this assumption.

The report painfully reminds us of the irreversible damage that has been done to once flourishing cod stocks and once thriving communities. The experience of the collapsing of Canadian cod stocks is being repeated around the world with other species such as bluefin tuna, orange roughy and sharks. Our marine resources are not renewable if we don't allow them to renew themselves.

The solution

What do we do? The answer is simple: stop overfishing and think of the future generations. And do it now.

Greenpeace has a sustainable seafood campaign to encourage Canada's retail sector to remove certain Redlist species from sale. This will help ensure the oceans and their shelves won't be sold out of stock.

Atlantic cod is found on the Redlist because, even though many stocks are under moratorium, bycatch and other quotas remain and bottom trawling continues to be employed.

Cod is both overfished and destructively fished. Continued mismanagement of this iconic Canadian species puts into question the commitment of the Canadian government to ensure the health and sustainability of our oceans.

But we all have a role to play in protecting oceans. We all have to make better choices so the eradication of another species isn't resting on our shoulders.

Help make sure "There probably is no cod" remains an ad campaign and not a painful reality.

Here's what you can do:

  • Email Hon Gail Shea, federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and tell her to cut the cod quotas.
  • Contact your supermarket and ask them to stop selling Atlantic cod and other Redlist species.
  • Avoid Redlist species

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