Working on a sea change in New England's fishery management
Ocean health along the U.S. East coast
Atlantic cod has been a mainstay of the New England economy and an icon of regional culture since the early American colonies. Today, 14 of 20 groundfish populations are either overfished or experiencing overfishing, including dinnertime favorites cod and flounder, and this decline is hurting the region’s marine environment and economy. Our work in the region has helped change the way this fishery is managed so that fish populations can rebuild, and in turn, sustain a more productive fishing industry and stronger coastal economies.
On May 1, 2010, the National Marine Fisheries Service implemented a new management system for groundfish in New England. It established 17 fishermen-run collectives, called sectors. Sectors were pioneered by fishermen as voluntary, cooperative and community-based, and were designed to protect fleet diversity and coastal communities. The new management system operates on three simple premises:
- It implements science-based catch limits to prevent overfishing and rebuild fish populations.
- It incorporates monitoring so fishermen and regulators know exactly how much fish is being caught, and as a result, fishing stops once catch limits have been reached.
Our WorkView All
What places are important to ocean fish? Spawning grounds, where fish reproduce, and nursery grounds, where baby fish find shelter, might come to mind first. Anyone who has thought about where to drop a baited hook also knows that fish go to certain spots to eat. Read More
In the early 1990s, something clearly was wrong with New England’s cod stocks. The populations were declining sharply and would soon collapse. Maine fisherman and lobsterman Ted Ames decided that something also was wrong with the official maps and charts showing the sensitive areas where the fish were known to mass together to spawn. The maps displayed only two such places in the Gulf of... Read More
Reasons major U.S. fishing law should shift to big picture management