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New England cuts cod quotas

05 Feb 2013

Annual catch limits for two stocks of Atlantic cod will be significantly reduced in New England as of 1 May 2013, following approval from the New England Fisheries Management Council.

Oceana has commended the Council for taking action to protect and rebuild these vulnerable fish populations which have been heavily overfished in recent years.

Oceana’s Northeast Representative Gib Brogan said, “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.”

He also said that effective catch monitoring needs to be implemented to ensure that the new limits are respected and fishing stops when the quota is reached.

The new catch limits apply to 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% reduction from 2012 levels, and the limit for Georges Bank stock is 55% 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.