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.
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The long shadow cast last week by the shrinking of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments is looming over the Atlantic Ocean. The day after President Donald Trump downsized Utah’s monuments, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released his final report on the remaining monuments under review, and to my disappointment, he recommended changes to the Northeast Canyons and... Read More
Last week was big for menhaden, a forage fish that is prey for many wildlife species and is the focus of the East Coast’s largest fishing operation. On Nov. 13 and 14, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Menhaden Management Board met in Linthicum, Maryland to set catch limits and other policies for this critical species. The result was a mixed bag that shows some promise... Read More
On Nov. 13, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will take its most important vote yet on how to manage menhaden, which are fished commercially and also support tourism, recreational fishing, and coastal businesses by serving as a key prey species for many predators. Three people who care about menhaden spoke with The Pew Charitable Trusts about what this forage fish means to them.... Read More
Reasons major U.S. fishing law should shift to big picture management