Starting Thursday, New England fishermen will be banned from fishing cod for the next six months in the waters from Provincetown, Mass., to the Canadian border.
WASHINGTON – Federal regulators slapped a six-month ban on most cod fishing off New England this week and are threatening to cut next year’s catch by up to 75 percent, in a move some say will destroy the livelihoods of fishermen across the region.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association is enforcing the ban in a last ditch effort to save the Atlantic Cod species, whose population is in free fall and nearing complete collapse. No commercial or recreational fisherman is allowed to use or trawl nets that trap Atlantic Cod, and no more than 200 pounds of cod is permitted in the catch of any single boat. The stretch of ocean where cod fishing is restricted has been extended, and fishermen without boats large enough to get into to deeper waters are out of luck. The fishermen interviewed regarding the ban are concerned their livelihoods are at stake, but if they continued to fish cod extensively over the next six months there is a good chance they might be the last generation to ever do so.
Concern for how the cod population is monitored and measured was vocalized by some fishermen, who explained the codfish population varied greatly across the swath of ocean where fishing them is now banned. Many families have fished cod in the New England waters for generations, and it seems the time has come to preserve those fish stocks so that they can continue those legacies in the future.
Haddock quotas have been increased to offset losses incurred from the cod fishing ban. Congress has also approved $33 million in aid to the New England fishing industry.