2018 GOM HADDOCK & COD UPDATE - The Fisherman


As reported on January 29, 2018, the likelihood of a Gulf of Maine (GOM) closure in the 2018 haddock fishery for the month of May was looming because, “…it is estimated that the 2018 Annual Catch Limit (ACL) for cod would be exceeded (due to dead discards) if anglers were allowed to target haddock in May. This is determined based upon the 2017 catch data, which is almost universally perceived to be “extremely flawed” at best. There is currently a 1-fish retention limit within Massachusetts state waters for cod, north of the 42-latitude line. NOAA estimated that with the continued cod zero retention limit and release mortality in Federal waters in combination with the Massachusetts 1-cod bag limit , that the cod ACL will be “eaten up” unless there is a May zero cod retention in Massachusetts state waters.”

On February 1, the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) issued a press release which, among other things, presented a pair of management recommendations to retain the May haddock fishery which has become very important for the GOM for-hire groundfishing fleet. The options are as follows. Be sure to review the press release for details and specifics of all the included recommendations.

First, the Council voted to recommend that NMFS –also called NOAA Fisheries –implement “status quo” management measures for Gulf of Maine cod and Gulf of Maine haddock for fishing year 2018, unless the Commonwealth of Massachusetts continues to allow private recreational anglers to retain one Gulf of Maine cod per trip in fishing year 2018. The status quo measures, which were supported by the Council’s Recreational Advisory Panel and Groundfish Committee, are:

  • Gulf of Maine Cod – Zero possession year-round.
  • Gulf of Maine Haddock – 12-fish bag limit, 17-inch minimum size, a March 1 through April 14 haddock closed season, and a September 17 through October 31 haddock closed season.

If Massachusetts does not prohibit possession of Gulf of Maine cod by private anglers, then the Council recommends that NMFS implement split measures for the recreational fishery as follows:

  • Gulf of Maine Cod – Zero possession year-round.
  • Gulf of Maine Haddock For-Hire Fleet – 10-fish bag limit, 17-inch minimum size, and two haddock closed seasons: (a) March 1-April14, and (b) September 17-October 31.
  • Gulf of Maine Haddock Private Anglers – 12-fish bag limit, 17-inch minimum size, and three haddock closed seasons: (a) March 1-April 14; (b) May 1-31; and (c) September 17 – October 31.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available as well as notice of any public hearings and how you can voice your opinion on this subject.