NMFS: New England Groundfish Stocks Still Too Low


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
September 1, 2008

A report released Friday by National Marine Fisheries Service researchers shows groundfish stocks off New England are still low and not recovering as quickly as hoped.

In 2007, 13 Northeast groundfish populations were at levels that scientists deem too low, similar to the conclusions of the previous assessment in 2004; also, 13 of 19 stocks were being depleted too quickly by overfishing, compared with 10 of 18 stocks in the 2004 report.

"There are some success stories, but the overall situation remains grim, with many very depleted fish populations and fishing rates that are unsustainable," Priscilla Brooks of the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation told the Boston Globe. "It also tells us our current approach to fishery management is not working, and we need to overhaul fishery management."

The study found some fish populations bouncing back, including haddock. Gulf of Maine cod, which was recorded as both depleted in 2004 and as being fished too hard, now has seen its population rebound, although it is still listed as being fished too aggressively.

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center report will be presented tomorrow to the New England Fishery Management Council, which will begin to develop new management plans for groundfish stocks, including pollock and flounder.

Over the past few years, the number of days fishermen could spend at sea has been slashed, in an effort to give populations a chance to rebound.

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