The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today has set an interim 2012 catch limit of 6,700 metric tons for Gulf of Maine cod for the fishing year that's set to begin May 1, essentially affirming the lower end of the range recommended in February by the New England Fishery Management Council.
The announcement — coming as NOAA, the council and the fishing industry all wrestle with the findings of a 2010 assessment that showed dramatically lower levels of Gulf of Maine cod stocks that had been reported in 2008 — sets the limit 22 percent below the current limit of 8,500 metric tons. The figure is, however, higher than the 4,000-metric-ton limit that had been sought by the Conservation Law Foundation, one of the leading fishery environmental nonprofit groups.
The New England Fisheries Management Council had urged an interim limit of between 6,700 metric tons and 7,500 metric tons, and Commerce Secretary John Bryson had indicated in February that he thought NOAA would be willing to go along with at least the 6,700-metric-ton figure.
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Stephanie Bergman can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.