A new Swedish TV-documentary airing on Tuesday 16 April paints a depressing picture of the Eastern Baltic Cod stock. However, ‘The cod – hope of the Sea’, Torsken – havets hopp, also provides a glimmer of hope for the iconic species and the Baltic Sea ecosystem.
“The last year I have been trying to find large cod in the Baltic Sea. I travelled with prominent scientists, fishermen and the best divers, but we have failed. The cod is small and skinny. It is starving to death”, says journalist and film maker Peter Löfgren to SVT Morgonstudion.
The cod are also full of parasites, that are spread by the increasing seal population in the Baltic Sea.
The documentary also highlights new research that investigates the cod in the Sea of Åland, which indicates that the cod living there may be a separate cod stock that spawn locally. The cod in the Sea of Åland, where the water is less salty, is much bigger than elsewhere and does not have the parasites that are so common in all other cod in the eastern Baltic Sea.
The film also aims to provide some kind of hope for the cod and Baltic Sea ecosystem, hypothesizing that the genetic adaptability of the Baltic Cod may even make it possible for the cod stock to rebuild. Aside from the relatively healthy cod in the Sea of Åland, the film team found some large cod hiding deep inside ship wrecks in the southern Baltic. Will these shy and cautious cod, that have thus far managed to escape from modern efficient fishing methods, be the next generation of cod in the Baltic Sea? This of course depends on political decisions to protect and rebuild the Baltic Cod stocks.
The film explains the complex Baltic Sea ecosystem in a straightforward way for a wide audience. It is well worth watching and is available online at SVT-play until Friday 11 October 2019. Here.