Regional Fishing Council Recommends New Catch Limits for Atlantic Cod

Proposed catch limits will further jeopardize vulnerable cod populations in New England

To save Atlantic cod, CLF petitioned the federal government to take five conservation and management measures. Photo: Brian Skerry

Photo: Brian Skerry

December 8, 2021 (BOSTON, MA) – The New England Fishery Management Council voted on new annual catch limits for Atlantic cod and other groundfish species today that will further jeopardize this vulnerable population. The new limits are based on updated population assessments released earlier this fall, which demonstrate that Atlantic cod continue to linger at historically low numbers in New England. CLF released the following statement in response to today’s vote.

“Today’s decision proves that the Council has completely abandoned its duty to develop catch limits that rebuild Atlantic cod to sustainable levels,” said Allison Lorenc, Senior Policy Analyst at CLF. “It is devastating to see this iconic species inch closer to complete collapse, and today’s decision does nothing to prevent that. It’s past time for NOAA Fisheries to disapprove these risky catch limits that don’t comply with the law.”

Atlantic cod has been overfished for decades. The most recent population assessments for the species show that the cod population is at a historic low with little to no chance of recovery under current management. If NOAA Fisheries approves the Council’s action, the catch limits put forth in what is known as Framework 63 would apply for the next one to three fishing years.

CLF filed a petition for rulemaking to end overfishing and rebuild Atlantic cod in February 2020, which included recommendations to help recover cod and bring the fishery into compliance with the law. After nearly two years the federal government has still not responded. The petition is available here.

CLF experts are available for further comment.