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
In May, I had the pleasure of sharing good news about Atlantic menhaden, the forage fish that feeds so many other animals that some call it “the most important fish in the sea.” The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission had data on the first coast-wide catch limit on menhaden, and the numbers showed that the catch limit was working to leave hundreds of millions more menhaden in the water. I... Read More
Federal and state officials recently announced a plan for the distribution of millions of dollars in disaster assistance for New England fishermen who depend on cod and other bottom dwelling groundfish. But some of these same regional officials are considering a proposal that threatens to make things worse by cutting back habitat protections for depleted groundfish species. Read More