PORTSMOUTH, NH- Today, the New England Fisheries Management Council approved a new set of significantly reduced annual catch limits for two stocks of Atlantic cod. This species has been heavily overfished leading to populations crashing and reduced catches in recent years. Oceana, the largest conservation organization working solely to protect the world’s oceans, commends the Council for taking action necessary to protect and rebuild these vulnerable fish populations.
Oceana’s Northeast Representative Gib Brogan released the following statement in response to the Council’s action today:
“By following science-based catch limits and not politics, the New England Council set a clear course to healthy future cod stocks today. If fisheries managers had taken this kind of action sooner, the fishery would be reaping the benefits with large and stable annual catches.
The lack of success in rebuilding these cod populations during the last 15 years represents a tremendous failing of fisheries management and a lost opportunity for the New England fishing fleet and the American economy.
We also need effective catch monitoring to ensure the new limits are respected and fishing stops when the quota is reached. Rebuilding is not impossible, but it will take some work.”
The new annual catch limits will take effect on May 1, 2013, and are targeted at the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank cod populations, two stocks that have seen drastic declines in the past decade. The new limit for Gulf of Maine cod marks a 77 percent reduction from 2012 levels, and the limit for Georges Bank stock is 55 percent lower than the previous year.
The new reduced quota numbers are based on an assessment known as “Stock Assessment Workshop (SAW) 55,” which was requested by the Council earlier this year. This assessment showed that after 15 years of trying to rebuild these two cod populations, virtually zero progress had been made. The Gulf of Maine cod population is currently at less than 19 percent of its target level, while the Georges Bank cod population is at 7 percent.
To learn more about Oceana’s work on responsible fishing, please click here.