It’s a reality now: Gulf of Maine cod under emergency restrictions

GLOUCESTER, MA – Everyone knew it was coming, but the official Nov. 10 announcement of emergency closures and trip limits to further protect Gulf of Maine cod still hit people with hurricane force.  The details were just so severe.

The day the news became public, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) first held a press conference to widely broadcast its decision to take extreme action and explain the reasoning behind it.

Then, an hour and a half later, the agency held a “town hall” style webinar/call-in session to walk industry members through the specifics.  Many did call in – fishermen, boat owners, sector managers, and even a few members of the New England Fishery Management Council, which had recommended that NMFS take emergency action without specifying the details (see CFN December 2014 for 10-page “Special Report”).

Three days later, on Nov. 13, the measures went into place.  Thirty-minute square blocks 132, 133, 125, and the northern half of 124 were closed to commercial and recreational gear “capable of catching cod” (see chart for block locations).  Trawlers were shut out immediately.  Fixed gear fishermen – gillnetters and longliners – were given a two-week grace period to remove gear.

Outside of the closed areas, common pool and sector boats became subject to a 200-pound trip limit for Gulf of Maine cod throughout the “Gulf of Maine Broad Stock Area.”  Sector boats, which previously were prohibited from discarding legal sized cod, now are required to do just that – throw back all cod, even legal sized ones, above the trip limit.

NMFS said it took this step to encourage fishermen to “avoid catching cod,” which, in turn, would “avoid the need to discard catch beyond the 200-pound trip limit.”  Recreational fishermen, including party and charter vessels, are now under a zero possession limit for Gulf of Maine cod for the duration of the emergency action…

Meta Slider - HTML Overlay - CFN_12_14-coverRead the rest of this story and much, much more in the December issue of Commercial Fisheries News.  Buy this issue or Subscribe.   

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