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
Fishery managers are requesting public comment on several new potential rules for the industrial Atlantic herring fishery, which involves the East Coast’s largest fishing vessels. Read More
The Chesapeake Bay is the Atlantic Ocean’s largest nursery for young menhaden—the fish that feeds much of the East Coast’s marine food web and is the target of intense commercial fishing here. In 2006, when managers first set a bay catch cap—or limit on menhaden fishing—they recognized that taking too many could harm predators and mean that not enough young menhaden... Read More
Every spring, as part of an annual migration, river herring and shad on the East Coast leave the ocean and run up rivers to spawn. At sea, river herring and shad are food for valuable commercial species, including tuna and cod, as well as whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals. And in rivers, their spawning runs attract not only eagles, osprey, and striped bass but also recreational anglers. Read More
Reasons major U.S. fishing law should shift to big picture management