Wake of the Sacred Cod?

Shaky Science, Deaf Mgt Faulted

by Laurie Schreiber

The Jamie & Ashley, Jordan Basin, Gulf of Maine, February 2013. Another round of cuts and another round of pain. The quota cuts called for by the Fishery Science Center are expected to hit the New England fishing fleet hard. The impending consequences are made more difficult to bear by the prominent doubts that many, including some scientists and managers, have about the science the cuts are based on. © Photo by Sam Murfitt


PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – New England fishermen were vocal about their concern over drastic harvest cuts for the region’s cod stocks, at the Jan. 30 meeting of the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC).

For fishing years 2013 through 2015, NEFMC decreased the overall quota for Gulf of Maine cod by 77 percent. Fishermen’s allocation will be reduced from 6,700 metric tons (mt) in 2012 to 1,550 mt, beginning on May 1 this year.

Georges Bank cod is shared with the Canadians and that quota is set annually under an agreement between the two countries. In 2013, the U.S. share will be set at 2,002 mt, a 61 percent drop from the 2012 quota of 5,013 mt.

The cuts were made as part of Framework Adjustment 50 to the groundfish management plan.

Catches of Gulf of Maine cod and Georges Bank cod were already restrictive. The NEFMC said it cut the catches further out of concern over the poor condition of both stocks and worry that the situation could worsen without additional protection.

The day-long deliberations were well-attended by fishermen, who said the cuts could be the end for many groundfishermen. They said that fishing communities were being made to pay for mistakes made by stock assessment scientists.

“It can’t be the industry’s fault that the advice we’ve gotten over the past 20 years is wrong,” said fisherman Jim Odlin. “We’re taking the advice, we’ve done it, it’s not working.”


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