Reuters reports that next year’s fishing quotas for cod, haddock and yellowtail flounder could be cut by as much as 70 percent after recent studies confirmed those populations of fish are dangerously depleted.
According to one study in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, there are only enough spawning fish to meet 8 percent of the area’s target level. The Gulf of Maine was slightly more encouraging, meeting 20 percent of its target level, though still falling well short of its goal.
Allison McHale, a spokesperson for the regional fisheries offices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Reuters that the reasons behind fish depletions are not singularly explained by overfishing. It’s suspected that climate change and the proliferation of predators like seals and bottom-feeders are playing a large role as well.
Ben Martens, director of the Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association, acknowledged that though these cuts in fishing quotas would be detrimental to small commercial fisherman’s business, it’s obvious they’re needed.
In light of these events, Reuters reports fishermen in Maine and Massachusetts are hoping the federal government declares their fishing territory a federal disaster area, which would allow them to collect monetary aid and sell their excess fishing boats and permits.
New England’s bottom-fishing industry used to feed millions, but has dwindled into a fraction of its former self as many popular fish have become commercially extinct. An advisory council that includes state environmental officials and fishermen is determing the exact quotas which will be released next month. The hope is that severly limited fishing will effect a rest period allowing fish populations to regenerate themselves.
In the meantime, consumers can make one important change to reduce their impact on marine life, and that would be to purchase seafood bearing the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label. Food carrying the MSC label supports sustainable fishing practices.
How concerned are you that depleting fish supplies may change the way you feed your family? Let us know in the comments.