Recreational Cod Fishermen Spared Big Cuts in ’12
Recreational fishermen planning to target cod in the Gulf of Maine (north of Cape Cod) this season breathed a collective sigh of relief after new regulations for the coming season were posted on April 2.
The new minimum size is intended to reduce the number of cod discarded by anglers attempting to reach their 9-fish limit, and thus reduce discard mortality.
NOAA has announced that a total of 6,700 metric tons (mt) of GOM cod would be available to commercial and recreational fishermen for the 2012 fishing year, down from 8,000 mt in 2011. A new stock assessment conducted late last year indicated that the cod biomass was much smaller than presumed, and that a cutback in the range of 90% would ultimately be needed.
In response, however, NOAA accepted a 22% cutback for the current year, but made it clear that a much more stringent reduction would likely need to be implemented for the 2013 fishing year.
“I worked closely with Sam Rauch [head of the National Marine Fisheries Service] and Rip Cunningham [chairman of the New England Fishery Management Council] to come up with a mortality-reduction scenario for the recreational sector that would have the least impact on anglers,” said Capt. Barry Gibson, the Recreational Fishing Alliance‘s (RFA) New England Director and chairman of the Council’s Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP). “I was particularly concerned about the groundfish party/charter sector, as these guys depend on cod. That’s what their customers pay to catch.”
The measures agreed upon included a reduction in the daily bag limit from 10 cod to 9, and a reduction in the minimum size from 24” to 19”. The new minimum size is intended to reduce the number of cod discarded by anglers attempting to reach their 9-fish limit, and thus reduce discard mortality.