BOSTON — Federal fishing regulators are considering letting commercial fishermen catch more of a species of shark in the coming year.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it's considering allowing more harvest of spiny dogfish in the 2021-22 fishing year.
Fishermen catch spiny dogfish from Maine to North Carolina. The top producing states include Massachusetts and Virginia.
NOAA said the proposed revisions increase catch limits by nearly 10%. That would increase the commercial fishing quota to more than 29 million pounds.
That's more dogfish than fishermen usually catch in a year. Fishermen brought more than 18 million pounds of spiny dogfish to docks in 2019. The last year in which fishermen brought more than 30 million pounds to docks was in 1999.
The sharks are used as food but is primarily consumed in Europe. Members of the seafood industry have tried marketing dogfish to U.S. consumers in recent years, but it remains an uncommon menu item.
Dogfish landings are closely tied to the stock’s migration, with peaks occurring from May through October when they reside along the southern end of Georges Bank, the Gulf of Maine and the waters off Massachusetts.
The diminutive sharks, which occupy a habitat that stretches from Canada to Florida, are considered one of the under-utilized species that fishing advocates believe might help fill the consumer void created by the demise or scarcity of traditional species such as cod and haddock.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.