In more bad news for the troubled New England groundfishery, a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found that cod stocks in the Gulf of Maine are at an all-time low.
The report was issued late last week through NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Center.
“The new analysis presents a grim picture for the potential recovery of this iconic fish stock,” a statement from NOAA said.
The federal fishery agency monitors fish stocks across the country. The latest assessment of Gulf of Maine cod found every indicator declined or worsened in 2013, with spawning biomass levels estimated at a low three to four per cent of the target for sustainability. Other indexes used to measure recovery were found to have reached historic lows.
Cod is considered a key fish stock for the Northeast groundfishery.
The stock assessment update included new catch, survey and age data to reflect stock condition through 2013. Regulators said the analysis suggests that cod will continue to decline.
“We realize that this news is difficult and NOAA Fisheries will work with our partners in the New England Fishery Management Council to discuss next steps, including peer review options of these preliminary results,” the statement said.
Two years ago poor stock assessments led the New England Fishery Management Council to cut the annual fishing quota for cod in the Gulf of Maine by 80 per cent.
This year Congress approved $32.8 million in aid to groundfishermen in New England. None of the money came to Dukes County where there are few groundfishermen left.
The New England fishery council reviewed the report at a meeting on Monday.