PORTLAND, Maine – Federal ocean regulators say a new fishing plan has a chance to rebuild the New England cod stock, which is a goal even many commercial fishermen have long regarded as far fetched.
Atlantic cod were once a cornerstone of the New England economy, but the catch has plummeted after years of overfishing, environmental changes and restrictive quotas. Most of the cod sold in the U.S. comes from overseas because many American fishermen avoid the fish-and-chips staple altogether.
But the regulatory New England Fishery Management Council has approved a new strategy that it said has a 70% chance of rebuilding the stock by 2033. The proposal, which is awaiting final approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, would use 10 years of low catch limits to try to rebuild the cod population in the Gulf of Maine.
The council said in a statement that the new plan will lower the fishing mortality rate for the fish over the next decade to “offer more protection for Gulf of Maine cod and give the stock a better chance of rebuilding.” But some fishermen are unconvinced cod are ever coming back.
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