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Inseason Management Measures to Respond to Changes in Gulf of Maine Cod and Haddock Stock Condition

The latest science tells us that Gulf of Maine haddock stock condition has improved.  The stock is abundant. However, this good news is tempered by the bleak news about Gulf of Maine cod.  Stock abundance is just 3-4 percent of levels deemed sustainable -- the lowest levels in the 40 years that we have been monitoring this fish stock.

Based on this new science, the New England Fishery Management Council requested that NOAA Fisheries implement immediate, short-term management measures in the 2014 fishing year for the groundfish fishery.

Through the measures announced today, we are attempting to help halt the continued decline of cod in the hopes that it may rebuild to support viable fisheries in the future. At the same time, to provide some fishing opportunity on abundant groundfish stocks in the near term, we are increasing the Gulf of Maine haddock quota.

Given the breadth of the measures necessary to protect cod, the benefits to the industry from the haddock quota increase are certainly not going to be as significant as we would like to see.  However, we are trying to find ways to keep fishermen on the water and the businesses that support them operating while taking meaningful steps forward to protect cod. 

We intend to work closely with council members, in the coming months, as they develop management measures for the 2015-fishing year, which begins on May 1.  It is important that the council measures build on the efforts that we are undertaking now if we are to end overfishing and encourage cod stock rebuilding.  At the same time, we want to continue to help the industry capitalize on new opportunities to catch abundant groundfish and other fish stocks.