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Regulators Ask For Emergency Action To Protect Atlantic Cod

Joachim s Muller
Flickr CC

Parts of the cod fishery could soon be closed or see tighter catch limits. The cod fishery has been in free-fall for years, but this week, the New England Fishery Management Council asked the federal government to take “emergency action” to stop the decline in cod stocks. That could mean closing sensitive areas to fishing.

Cod catch limits were cut by 77 percent in 2012, but Pat Fiorelli, Public Affairs officer with the council, says it hasn’t helped.

“We need to do something. Actually we’re not even saying it’s over-fishing and that it’s the fisherman’s fault,” says Fiorelli, “The stock is declining for any number of reasons: predation may be one of them, climate change – there are all kinds of things.”

Fiorelli says since the catch limits were dropped, many boats have switched to fishing for redfish, hake or haddock, which have healthy populations. “Their focus at this point is to get at those healthy stocks, while taking an absolute minimum amount of cod to do so,” she explains.

A study done in August found that fish old enough to reproduce were at record lows, only 3 or 4 percent of target population.

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