New measures for Gulf of Maine cod
NOAA has announced that fishermen will be allowed to catch up to 6,700mt of Gulf of Maine cod in 2012.
This is the end result of collaborative work with the fishing industry to find a solution that prevented a much larger cut to the allowable catch for the 2012 fishing year.
In late 2011, a new stock assessment for Gulf of Maine cod found the stock declined unexpectedly, making major reductions in catch limits necessary for the 2012 fishing year, as required under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. NOAA and the New England Fishery Management Council worked with the fishing industry to identify flexibility within federal fisheries law that could both protect cod and provide sustained fishing opportunities. As a result, the quota for 2012 will be set at 6,700mt, which is within the range recommended by the New England Fishery Management Council. Without this collaborative approach, the catch limit for this fishing year would have been less than 1,500mt.
NOAA is granting commercial groundfish sectors a carry-over of up to 10% of the 2011 allocation into the 2012 fishing year. The fishing industry requested this carry-over, which is part of the 6,700mt catch limit.
NOAA will also conduct a new assessment of Gulf of Maine cod in 2012, in time to set fishing year 2013 catch limits. NOAA is exploring key science issues prioritised by the Council’s scientific committee, including the appropriateness of currently defined stock boundaries (stock structure), survival rates of discarded fish, and use of new recreational survey data.
“We are looking for ways to work cooperatively with fishermen in the groundfish fleet to conduct this research and, in particular, to better estimate the long-term survival of discarded cod in commercial and recreational fisheries,” said Richard Merrick, chief science advisor for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “Fishermen’s on-the-water experience is invaluable, and we hope that closer ties with them will improve our science and our understanding.”
The Gulf of Maine Research Institute has agreed to coordinate a comprehensive look at stock structure, an effort that will involve a variety of partners to evaluate what is known about the number and distribution of various cod stocks. NOAA is also developing new methodology to incorporate new marine recreational fishing data into the cod stock assessment.