Lobstermen still able to fish traps in groundfish closed areas

NEWPORT, RI – New and very severe measures to protect Gulf of Maine cod under Framework Adjustment 53 to the groundfish plan will not apply to lobstermen, who may continue to set and haul traps in groundfish closed areas.

However, the issue of cod bycatch in lobster gear and the question of whether or not hauling practices disrupt cod spawning behavior remain on the New England Fishery Management Council’s “radar” and will be further investigated.

During its Nov. 17-20 meeting here in Newport, the council considered a well-publicized motion from its groundfish committee proposing that any adopted cod closures include a restriction on “fishing with or using lobster pot gear.”

I did catch some cod in my traps this year.  Three.  I had 3,600 hauls where I could have caught cod, and I caught three.  I had to fight to get them out of the trap, and they swam away in good condition.  —Bill Adler

With time in advance to prepare a response, lobstermen and their industry representatives turned out to testify, well versed with their talking points.  So did groundfish fishermen who had their own concerns about the implications of the outcome.

In the end, the council determined that there wasn’t enough concrete scientific information available to justify banning lobster pots in closed areas.  But it voted to direct its groundfish plan development team (PDT) to collaborate with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) lobster technical committee (TC) to “fully analyze all available data to better understand the bycatch and interactions of cod in the lobster fishery.”

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

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