The Northeast Multispecies Fishery, otherwise known as the groundfish fishery, encompasses fifteen groundfish species and twenty stocks that inhabit the waters from Maine to New Jersey. Some of these species have a geographic component (cod, haddock, winter flounder, yellowtail flounder, windowpane flounder) with areas defined in the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank and Southern New England / Mid-Atlantic regions while others have only one geographic component.
In Fishing Year 2012 (May 1, 2012 – April 30, 2013), the groundfish fishery consisted of over 1,300 limited access permits with approximately 450 active groundfish vessels. These vessels range in size from roughly 30 to 90 feet and fish with all predominate commercial gear types (trawl, sink gillnet, longline, handline). The fishery is largely comprised of small, family-owned, and in many cases owner-operated, businesses. Our industry is not only comprised of fishers. Shore-side businesses, fishing dependent communities and seafood consumers make our industry whole. One segment cannot exist without the other.
According to NOAA’s Northeast Fishery Science Center’s “2011 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies Fishery,” total nominal revenue from all species on groundfish trips in 2011 was US $121.5 million. Groundfish specific nominal revenue on groundfish trips in 2011 was US $89.8 million.
In Fishing Year 2013, draconian reductions in Annual Catch Limits for a multitude of groundfish stocks, including the venerable cod, haddock, and several flounder species went into effect on May 1, 2013. There is no question will have profound effects on all groundfish fishery-dependent stakeholders—from fishermen and shore-side infrastructure businesses, to grocery stores and restaurants. Now, more than ever, we need to work together for the future of this fishery.