The New England Fishery Management Council met February 1-3, 2022 by webinar and devoted the entire third day of the meeting to groundfish issues. In short, the Council:
- Developed recommendations on recreational fishing measures for Gulf of Maine cod and Gulf of Maine haddock for the 2022 fishing year for consideration by the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO) of NOAA Fisheries, which consults with the Council but is responsible for setting the measures;
- Received a presentation on the 2021 Atlantic Cod Stock Structure Science/Assessment and Management Workshops, as well as the resulting draft final report;
- Received a progress report from the Atlantic Cod Research Track Working Group; and
- Engaged in an extensive discussion on potential management units for Atlantic cod based on the recent work on stock structure. The Council gave the Groundfish Committee a specific charge for considering next steps, which the full Council will review and discuss during the April 2022 meeting.
The Council annually develops recommendations for recreational fishing measures for Gulf of Maine cod and Gulf of Maine haddock. These measures, which take the form of bag limits, seasons, and minimum fish sizes, are proactive accountability measures (AMs) that are intended to allow the recreational fishery to “achieve but not exceed” the sub-annual catch limits (sub-ACLs) for these stocks. GARFO considers the Council’s recommendations but has the final say in determining and implementing the measures. For the 2022 groundfish fishing year, which begins on May 1, the Council recommended the following.
Gulf of Maine Cod:
- Open Season: September 1 to October 7, 2022, and April 1-14, 2023 for all modes (private, party, charter);
- Bag Limit: one fish per day; and
- Minimum Size: 22 inches
Gulf of Maine Haddock
- Open Season: May 1, 2022 through February 28/29, 2023 and April 1-30, 2023, leaving only March 2023 closed to recreational fishing for this stock;
- Bag Limit: 20 fish per day, up from the current 15-fish limit; and
- Minimum Size: 17 inches
The Council’s recommendations include: (1) an expanded fall season for cod over the 2021 fishing year; (2) an increase in the minimum size for cod from 21” to 22”; and (3) a bag limit increase for haddock from the current 15 fish to 20 fish.
Based on a recommendation from its Groundfish Committee, the Council initially discussed a 22” to 28” slot limit for Gulf of Maine cod. However, the Council concluded that a single 22” minimum size better balanced the risk of exceeding the cod sub-ACL while allowing recreational fishermen to achieve the sub-ACL for haddock.
The recreational fishery has not exceeded or achieved its sub-ACL for either Gulf of Maine cod or Gulf of Maine haddock for the past three fishing years. More information is available in the presentation and in the bioeconomic model summary.
Read the entire press release at nefmc.org.