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Gulf of Maine Cod – SPECIAL REPORT

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New England council requests emergency action for GOM cod

HYANNIS, MA – Following hours of difficult discussion punctuated by impassioned testimony from numerous commercial and recreational fishermen who had much at stake, the New England Fishery Management Council on Oct. 1 voted to ask the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to take emergency action to “reduce mortality on Gulf of Maine cod in fishing year 2014.”…

 


 

In their own words

Statements at the New England Council meeting Oct. 1, 2014…

 


 

New assessment update indicates Gulf of Maine cod at ‘lowest level’ yet

HYANNIS, MA – According to a new stock assessment update conducted by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the Gulf of Maine cod stock is in very poor condition and on a continuing downward spiral.

“Unfortunately, the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring.  It is a situation of very low stock size and very high rates of fishing mortality,” said Paul Rago of the science center, who presented the updated assessment findings to the New England Fishery Management Council on Oct. 1.

Spawning stock biomass (SSB) in 2013 was estimated to be between 2,000 metric tons (mt) to 2,500 mt, which was on the order of 3% to 4% of where it should be to achieve maximum sustainable yield (MSY), the “so-called optimal level for biological production,” Rago explained.

And, fishing mortality was six to seven times greater than what it should be to achieve MSY, he added…

 


 

New assessment update indicates Gulf of Maine cod at ‘lowest level’ yet

HYANNIS, MA – According to a new stock assessment update conducted by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the Gulf of Maine cod stock is in very poor condition and on a continuing downward spiral.

“Unfortunately, the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring.  It is a situation of very low stock size and very high rates of fishing mortality,” said Paul Rago of the science center, who presented the updated assessment findings to the New England Fishery Management Council on Oct. 1.

Spawning stock biomass (SSB) in 2013 was estimated to be between 2,000 metric tons (mt) to 2,500 mt, which was on the order of 3% to 4% of where it should be to achieve maximum sustainable yield (MSY), the “so-called optimal level for biological production,” Rago explained.

And, fishing mortality was six to seven times greater than what it should be to achieve MSY, he added.

“There’s a continued truncation of the age structure in both the catch and the surveys, and these imply a high total mortality rate,” Rago said.

Furthermore, he said, “There’s no signal of incoming recruitment.”…

 



Bullard, Karp – On the record: 
Action needed for GOM cod…

 


 

Point, counterpoint:  GOM cod update appreciated by some but ‘process’ infuriates many in industry 

On Aug. 1, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center announced that it had conducted a stock assessment update for Gulf of Maine cod and released the findings (see story page 12).

The way this came about opened a floodgate of raw emotions within the commercial fishing industry.  Many, many fishermen and their representatives expressed deep anger and resentment about the process, arguing that the assessment was conducted in “secret,” “behind closed doors,” and without the benefit of industry input.

Some people said they were grateful for the heads-up about the stock’s continued downslide (see box next page).

But the vast majority of fishermen begged to differ and expressed bitterness at being caught off guard and alienated from an assessment update that was sure to have profound impacts on their day-to-day lives.

What follows are excerpts from letters and testimony surrounding this controversial development.

First, the science center’s Russell Brown explains why the center conducted the assessment update.  Second, National Marine Fisheries Service Regional Administrator John Bullard presents his viewpoints on why the council should act decisively to address the center’s findings.

Next, two prominent industry members – Richie Canastra of the BASE New England seafood auctions and New Hampshire fisherman David Goethel, a former council member himself – explain their vehement objections and concerns over how the science center acted.

Here’s what they had to say.  —Editor …

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Read the rest of these stories and much, much more in the November issue of Commercial Fisheries News.

Read online immediately and download for future reference.  

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