Cod’s walloped

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1997:

Like the North Sea nations and Canada, New
England is combatting a cod crisis. Since 1982, the New
England cod, yellowtail, and haddock catches, combined,
are down from 86,000 tons to 17,600 tons. After the New
England fleet killed 17% more cod from May through August
last year than the New England Fishery Management Council
set as the regional quota for the year, scientific advisors recommended
a 41% cut in the cod take to protect adequate
spawning stock. Initially proposing to cut the number of
allowable fishing days per vessel from an already restricted
88 to just 14, the council eventually settled on weight limits
for catches prorated by size of vessel. Earlier limits on fishing
days and an outright prohibition of fishing in certain areas
meanwhile won a February 5 court challenge from the
Associated Fisheries of Maine.


As the debate went on, 164 fishers, representing a
third of the northeastern cod fleet, took advantage of a $23
million federal offer to buy them out of groundfishing.
NMFS meanwhile unveiled a satellite tracking system
to insure that fishers don’t sail more days than allowed,
just five months after Senator Edward Kennedy, NASA, and
the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth announced a
federally funded four-year project to use satellites to help
them find and kill more fish, faster.
Along with cod, fluke, monkfish, scallops, and
crabs are under restriction along the New England coast
because of alleged overfishing. Maine fishers sold 1.4 million
pounds of sea urchins in 1987, but boosted that to 41
million pounds in 1993, after Japanese demand depleted west
coast stocks––and now the Maine sea urchin catch is in
decline too.
NMFS hopes a $4.3 million fine and lifetime ban
from federal waters levied on April 3 against brothers James
and Peter Spalt of Barnstable, Massachusetts, will restrain
fish poaching, which may be conducted on a scale sufficient
to cause authorities to seriously underestimate the amount of
fish taken. The Spalts ran at least seven fishing companies,
owned five fishing vessels, and allegedly committed more
than 300 violations of federal fisheries law between March
1994 and February 1995.

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