Cod Fishing All But Banned in Gulf of Maine
Emergency actions taken by federal fishery regulators essentially amount to a ban on cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine.
A 77 percent reduction in cod catch limits two years ago was enough to prompt a federal fishery disaster declaration and nearly $33 million in relief funds, but not enough to stop the decline of the iconic fish. A report released by fishery scientists this past summer found Gulf of Maine cod stocks were at just 3-4 percent of sustainable levels, down dramatically from the last assessment. After reviewing the study, the New England Fishery Management Council asked federal regulators to take emergency measures to reduce cod mortality.
What they got are the tightest restrictions ever imposed on the fishery, and the fact that they came as no surprise isn’t making them any more palatable to fishing communities. The new rules - which go into effect immediately - are tantamount to a ban on specifically targeting cod in the Gulf of Maine. Recreational fishermen can still catch the fish, but they can't keep them. Commercial fishermen face rolling closures on specific areas within the Gulf of Maine and a strict cap on how much cod they can bring in. The number is so small, in fact, that fishermen and regulators expect to hit the limit with only by-catch from other fisheries.
WCAI’s Science editor Heather Goldstone shares some perspective on the latest rules.