New England’s fisheries have long been a critical economic engine and cornerstone of our region’s culture.
At one time, New England’s fisheries inspired tales of cod schools so thick that fish jumped onto boats’ decks. But decades of overfishing and mismanagement have nearly wiped out those legendary fish populations, creating a crisis that threatens to destroy this key piece of our heritage – and the future livelihoods of fishing families up and down New England’s coast.
CLF first negotiated a fisheries management plan for groundfish in 1991. Since then, we have fought to end overfishing and rebuild fish populations to create sustainable fisheries. Few areas of CLF’s work are as emotionally and politically charged. With fishermen’s livelihoods at risk, imposing limits on the amount and type of fish they can catch – even in the interest of preservation – has met with powerful resistance from some segments of the industry.
For too long, fisheries management was driven by the short-term interests of industry heavyweights and their political allies. CLF has been tenacious in pushing for regulations based on sound science to achieve long-term results and help fishing communities thrive.
In 2010, CLF was instrumental in developing major changes to New England’s fishing regulations. The rules established science-based catch limits and accountability measures for catching groundfish, improved fisheries monitoring, gave fishermen more flexibility to organize their businesses to maximize profits, reduced wasteful bycatch, and increased safety at sea.
Even with these measures, too little progress has been made and Atlantic cod populations remain at crisis levels. Climate change now makes the threats to our groundfisheries even more urgent. CLF is standing up to the New England Fishery Management Council and holding them accountable for their irresponsible and reckless policies that are pushing our fisheries to the edge of extinction.