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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In October, Ellen Pikitch, former chair of the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, submitted a letter on behalf of more than 100 scientists to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in support of managing menhaden, a forage fish, from an ecosystem perspective. The public comment period is open through Oct. 24, and the commission will make its decision Nov. 13. Read More
Atlantic menhaden play an essential role in marine ecosystems and businesses along the U.S. East Coast. Now, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which sets fishing rules for menhaden along the Eastern Seaboard, is considering how to protect and increase their economic and ecological value. Read More
As you read this, the opportunity for Americans to voice their opinion on an extraordinarily biodiverse area of the Atlantic Ocean is closing. Aug. 15 is the final day to submit comments to the Department of Commerce on the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which was established to safeguard an ecosystem teeming with sea life, including deep-sea corals that can take... Read More
Reasons major U.S. fishing law should shift to big picture management