Changing Ocean

Water temperature, ocean patterns altering fish behavior, distribution

MYSTIC, CT – Back in April when the New England Fishery Management Council was gathered here, member David Goethel of New Hampshire described the groundfish fleet’s downward slide in the following fashion.

In the 1990s, he said, “We had an overcapacity issue with groundfish, and we dealt with it the best we could.”

But shortly after the council “got serious” about addressing the problem, the ocean itself underwent a “massive decline in productivity and basically masked everything we did,” Goethel said.

Referencing data being used in the development of Amendment 18 to the federal groundfish plan, which is intended to address fleet diversity issues and “accumulation caps,” Goethel pointed out that 1,200 boats landed groundfish in 2000 while only 450 did so in 2011.  Of those 450, only 135 were “principally dependent” on groundfish, meaning they derived more than 50% of their income from groundfish.


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