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No turning back on cod fishing restrictions


Cod catch. (Photo: Allen M. Shimada, NMFS/NOAA)

Click on the flag for more information about United StatesUNITED STATES
Monday, February 02, 2015, 01:10 (GMT + 9)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will not modify the current restrictive emergency interim actions governing Gulf of Maine cod, which it had set last November.
The industry, with the support of Gloucester Fishing Community Preservation Fund (GFCPF), had put forward a plan that would eliminate the 200-pound cod bycatch trip limit. In addition, it also suggested to open up some closed broad stock areas in return for the fisheries surrendering up to 60 tonnes of allocated cod quota.
NOAA's Regional Administrator, John K. Bullard answered that they would have needed more time to thoroughly analyse the proposal, and expressed his suppot to the adopted decision.
“Increasing the 200-pound limit increases the mortality of cod and only provides a marginal economic benefit,” stressed the official in a meeting of the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC).
Maggie Raymond of the Associated Fisheries of Maine expressed her discontent at the news, "It's just shocking that [NOAA Fisheries] is not willing to work with us," she regreted, Gloucester Times reported.
Closing many coastal areas forces fishermen to travel much further to fish for other species.
Besides, the federal agency response implies ruling out the offer made by the industry, mainly developed by the GFCPF together with Northeast Fishery Sector 4.
Some members of the NEFMC were interested in applying changes to the provisional emergency measures considering the challenges that fishermen are forced to face, travelling farther in inclement weather, and the displeasure NOAA's quick dismissal of the sector proposal has caused.
The measures taken by NOAA last year arose from the results of an assessment of Gulf of Maine cod. At the time, the entity pointed out that virtually, every indicator of stock condition had declined or worsened in 2013.
The study revealed that levels of spawning biomass accounted for 3-4 per cent of the biomass target for maximum sustainable yield, and that rates of fish resources and spawning stock biomass were at historic lows. 
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