by Laurie Schreiber
GLOUCESTER, Mass. – Broad-scale rolling closures and a miniscule catch limit on cod in the Gulf of Maine is expected to have devastating effects on the small-boat groundfishing fleet.
“Disaster,” predicted Ellen Goethel. “I feel it’s punitive to the small-boat fleet. Area closures and trip limits – we were told prior to sectors that they wouldn’t work. We were told the new sector system would work. I feel the sector system has failed. If we have to go back to something that didn’t work in the beginning, on top of the sectors, do you feel the sector system has failed?”
“No,” responded John Bullard, the administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Greater Atlantic Region. “I feel what’s failed is our ability to manage cod. We’ve managed cod down to historic lows, and what I’ve said is, I think everybody should take responsibly for that – the agency, the council, the industry. The council has asked us to take steps, an emergency action, and that’s what we’ve done….The council has a responsibility to manage cod back to healthy stocks. It’s not easy. It will require sacrifice by many.”
The exchange took place during a conference call on Nov. 10 to announce an emergency action to protect Gulf of Maine (GOM) cod.