New England Fisheries

The Face of Failure

Atlantic cod has been overfished or subject to overfishing in New England since at least 1989. Photo credit: Brian Skerry,

“It seems quite clear that what many of us have feared finally has occurred—a collapse or near-collapse of the [Gulf of Maine] cod stock. Some might not want to use ‘collapse’ because of its implications for management and the fishery. I suggest collapse, rather than ‘depleted,’ is appropriate especially because recruitment has been well below the median for at least the last four years; there is no age structure offering any realistic hope for rebuilding; and stock structure is even more disrupted (i.e. continued diminishment and loss of spawning aggregations). Adding to this more alarming descriptor is the likely impact of warming waters and their effects on productivity.”

Dr. David Pierce, Deputy Director Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (memorandum to the New England Fisheries Management Council on which he sits dated September 11, 2014).


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