New fishing regulations restrict cod, open up flounder

Feb 4, 2013

Point Judith, RI - Photo via Flickr Creative Commons

Regional fisherman say new catch limits on cod voted in place by the New England Fishery Management Council last week will decimate their industry. But an official at the Division of Fish and Wildlife says the impact to local fisherman will be limited.

Each year new catch limits are determined for various fish species in the North Atlantic. These limits can last for a year or several years depending on the health of the stock. Last week, the catch limit for Gulf of Maine Cod was reduced by 77%.

Fishermen say the drastic cut on such a high value species will decimate the region’s ground fish industry. But the Deputy Chief for Marine Fisheries at the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife, Mark Gibson, says fishermen in Rhode Island will likely be spared. Cod isn’t a main haul for the local fleet. And he adds the vote that cut the amount of cod, also included a ruling that allows fishermen to go after Southern New England Winter Flounder.

“Not only will it mitigate," he says. "But they’re projecting that Rhode Island’s Groundfish revenues will go up in 2013 instead of down which is expected for the other states.”

Gibson says the winter flounder is a fish that had been prohibited since 2009 due to lack of numbers. But those numbers are up. He says the flounder are found off Block Island. The new rules kick in May 1st.

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