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Measuring around 18 miles long, New Hampshire has the smallest shoreline of all coastal states. But for about 400 years, it’s been enough to support small boat fishermen in the Seacoast region. They make their livings cruising New England’s waters for cod, lobster, shrimp and other stocks.For decades, the industry’s been challenged by declining populations of fish and shellfish, as well as changing federal regulations. As of 2010, New England fishermen are allowed to catch a set poundage of fish based on their take over a 10-year span. New Hampshire fishermen argue this change has made the cost of working outpace profits, forced many small boats out of business, and discouraged new people from entering the industry. No matter the cause, figures from the US Census Bureau clearly show an industry in decline. In Portsmouth, the Seacoast’s main city, the Census Bureau reports only 0.2 percent of residents work in the “Farming, fishing and forestry occupations” category. That’s compared to 0.6 percent in 2000. A number of New Hampshire fishermen, politicians, and historians believe that without change, the state’s small boat fishing industry is heading toward extinction.Summary provided by StateImpact NH

Regulators Punt Big Cut in Cod Limits

Cod Fish.jpg

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced cuts to the catch limits on Atlantic Cod for the 2012 fishing year. But New Hampshire fishermen got a reprieve, since the cuts could have been much worse.

The Federal regulators decided to reduce the catch limits on cod by 22 percent, after a study last October found far fewer fish than scientists expected. The reduction is a lot less than the 85 percent cut that NOAA originally believed would be required by federal fishery law.

NOAA Administrator Alan Risenhoover says that the agency found a compromise that allowed them to set a softer limit for 2012.

"That limit will enable us to make progress in ending overfishing, while keeping fishermen on the water this year, and avoiding the severe cuts that may have resulted," says Risenhoover.

During the next year NOAA will do another estimate of the number of Cod in the fishery. They say if they don’t find fish population on the rise, fishermen will have to brace themselves for drastic cuts in 2013.

 

 

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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