The hard reality: GOM cod ACL may be too low for some sectors to survive

NEWPORT, RI – On Nov. 18, the New England Fishery Management Council approved a 386-metric-ton (mt) acceptable biological catch (ABC) for Gulf of Maine cod for 2015 – a figure so low that many fear it may irreversibly cripple at least part of the commercial groundfish fleet.

The ABC was part of Framework Adjustment 53 to the groundfish plan, which also contains specifications for the full range of groundfish stocks and, among other things, a set of inshore “cod protection” closures that small-boat fishermen say will be impossible to maneuver around (see closure story page 15).

The council approved the 386-mt ABC based on advice from its Scientific and Statistical Committee.  Although the number was higher than the 200-mt ABC the council had initially reviewed in September (see CFN November 2014), it’s still a very small amount of fish.

“Frankly, I don’t see how any of these groundfish sectors are going to stay open,” said Massachusetts council member David Pierce.  “It looks very, very dire for the individual sectors with the amount of cod that will be allocated to them.  Many of them are going to shut down, I would think.”

The fleet this year – the ongoing 2014 fishing year – has been operating under a 1,550-mt ABC, which, in and of itself, was a dramatic cutback from previous years.  Therefore, to fishermen already struggling to hang on by a thread, the prospect of 386 mt was simply unfathomable.


Read the rest of this story and much, much more in the January issue of Commercial Fisheries News.  Buy this issue or Subscribe.   

(Read online immediately with access key and download for future reference.)