Managers Recommend Closed Cod Season in 2017

Fishery Managers Recommend 2017 Haddock and Cod Limits

The New England Fishery Management Council has asked NMFS to consider implementing the following Gulf of Maine cod and haddock regulations for the 2017 fishing year.

Gulf of Maine Cod: closed
Gulf of Maine Haddock: 12-fish bag limit, 17-inch minimum size, and two closed seasons:
Sept 17, 2017 to Oct 31, 2017
March 1, 2018 to April 14, 2018

Preliminary figures indicate that 192% of the Gulf of Maine cod sub-ACL (Annual Catch Limit) has been harvested. Therefore, based on the best scientific advice available, the Council agreed to recommend zero cod possession for 2017 on all recreational trips by both private and for-hire vessels. The Council then focused on trying to maximize recreational fishing opportunities on haddock while avoiding impacts on cod.

January 26, 2017 press release here

WIll you fish for haddock in 2017?

  1. Phil

    This was a fantastic fishery until about 2009. It got better year after year and it wasn’t uncommon to catch a 100lbs of Cod&Haddock about 50/50 with 2-3 rods in a half day. Once the daily catch limits were replaced by IFQ’s it’s impact was obvious. In the once rich (year round closed to commercial) areas we could only find tiny cod, less than 15″ and very few haddock. Since 09 there has been very little improvement.

    The current haddock fishery is nearly 100% 15-17″ fish. The 24 inch haddock that were common place prior to IFQ’s are gone, as are the 24+ inch cod and the once plentiful 15lb Pollack.

    To put any blame for this shortage on recreational catch is laughable while draggers are filling nets with “scrod” haddock and whatever bycatch is in the way. These guys all swim together!

    Ground fishing was once one of my favorite activities and I’m very good at it. However these trips are no longer worthwhile relative to fuel and fun factors. Catching 15″ haddock on every drop like mackerel gets old fast.

    NOAA’s implementation of IFQ’s simply allows the fleet to fish more efficiently. Find them and stay on them until they’re caught or until the hold is full. We’ll never have a groundfish recovery unless we eliminate IFQ’s and revert back to less efficient methods.

    • Kent Fager

      When we go up to Jeffery’s looking for haddock we can catch 20 big cod and an occasional haddock. Yes I understand hard bottom, soft bottom. one day we left an area because that is all we caught. Every line drop, three guys. 24-28″ cod. Now we need to go to wildcat to find any decent haddock. I see the trend…15, last year, 12 this year, 8 next year. Are you kidding me? Make the commercial guys go to hook and line ! This will allow smaller boats with 4 guys to catch some to sell and keep the nets off the bottom.

    • Jason

      These people are idiots….last year after a year of closure cod were everywhere. If they really think the rec are causing damage they are nuts… simple answer STOP the daggers! They harvest more fish in one pull than 20 rec boats can in a season. Then the worst part is when they have a 200lb per day cod limit….so guess what happens all those dead cod go over board belly up! After all these years I can’t belive nefmc/noaa are that stupid ….

      • george bridle

        you are 100% right the draggers are the ones who are killing fish.
        but the feds can’t see that.i have seen so many party boats and charters
        go out of business because of they want to make it hard for the rec fisherman.

      • DONNIE B.


  2. Jim

    Yes, I’ll continue to fish and enjoy it. The GOM may be down on Cod, but even after the 15 the Haddock are still OK… It’ll be tough on some charters / head boats. I’ll be targeting more Pollack and we’ll get by.

  3. Bill Francis

    When 30-40% of commercially caught fish are under size by catch,why is it that recreational fishermen have to suffer

  4. Bryan Marshall

    It is very disappointing to continue to see a blind eye turned to the real problem in the GOM. To perpetually punish the “hook and line” fisherman makes no sense. As it was, there was a very limited cod season and a 1 fish bag limit. When the season hit, it took about 10 minutes to get your limit, and that was mixed in with a continuous haul of single and double hook ups of fish in the 22-23″ size. And fat to boot. The Haddock in the area have been coming back well and the sizes have been climbing steadily. Going from a 15 fish bag limit to a 12 still is a fair haul and makes it worth running to the grounds. But punishing “the little guy” over the ones who have tons of under sized fish kill or bycatch, is completely backwards. Yes, they are trying to make a living, but when there is nothing to catch, there is no living to be made.

  5. Bill Biswanger

    I would love to know the ratio of commercial catch vs rec sport fisherman ?????

  6. Tom Davis

    Governmental BS!!!!
    The commercial guys can’T figure out how to effectively manage their industry and when the fishing for them “sucks” the Rec guys pay the price…give me a break…limiting the Rec guy has, and never will have, any meaningful difference to a problem created by the very greedy fishing industry…

    • mark sharkey

      They should have commercial long-lining and that’s it….Then the stock would stand a fighting chance!

  7. Dean Williamson

    The cod is Massachusetts’ state fish. They need to do whatever they can to protect the species, but whatever the recreational fisherman have to give up the commercial guys should give up too.

  8. Roman

    I lived in Maine for a year back in 2005. I attend the meeting on the cod fishing situation. I listened to everybody complain that making changes to the limits would take money from their families, taking fishing opportunities away from the general public. Nobody wanted to make the sacrifice back then when it wouldn’t have been so bad. When I got up and mentioned to think for the future I was booed and told where to go. Now that we are in the hole,everyone is crying. You brought it upon yourselves and hopefully next time you will remember this and make some changes early. Cod fishing should be shut down completely for everyone for a year and then see what happens. Learn from this.

  9. Joe Gomes

    I’m pushing 60 now & have yet to fish for cod. I have, however, watched the size of cod taken on head boats drop from 30-60 founders down to baby size ALL due to overfishing. The trawling style of fishing groundfish is similar to clear cutting forests. It takes everything! We simply cannot continue to take & take and WASTE as we have all these decades! “In the 1600’s you could walk across Boston harbor on the backs of the cod & not get wet”. I don’t remember the source if this quote but have seen it many times.
    Correct me if you feel it but
    Everything humans touch turns to sh#t!

    • mark sharkey

      The trawler by-catch is the biggest thing.Thousands of pounds of fish crushed in the nets,I think closing more areas and policing the mid-water herring trawlers so the food chain stays stable is also a good idea.

  10. Keith

    I agree with Roman, close it to all for a time period. In addition i think its a whole soup bowl of issues be it over harvest,climate change, pollution. In the end we all lose.

  11. don

    I’ve been dealing with this for fifty years. We subsidized the commercial industry for decades. A whole town of fishermen fishing a whole season couldn’t reap what a dragged reaps in one day. Our fees for fuel, liscenes, tackle, etc should speak out more clearly AND. Loudly. First blow fish, then the next issue was weakfish, then flounder, then stripers

  12. don

    What should be is that our grounds are near our homes. They should be ours to enjoy. We spent millions in fees for structures to be build
    Out of 15 or so, most can’t be fished because their NETS blanket the whole structures making it near impossible not to lose tackle if you fish it. This is a result of sharing. They get their gear caught on the struture that we paid for, they lose it and again we have to suffer.
    We, fishermen, never intended to ruin any part of any fishery, but here again, up and down the coast we have issues, as always in these last 40 years. I say give us our spots, give the commercial guys their spots. Let the axe fall where it may. In ten years, all will be told.

  13. don

    We, fishermen, never intended to ruin any part of any fishery, but here again, up and down the coast we have issues, as always in these last 40 years. I say give us our spots, give the commercial guys their spots. Let the axe fall where it may. In ten years, all will be told.

  14. Ikhilu

    If 192% has been harvested why are the commercials guys still allowed out? Makes absolutely no sense…. soon the commercial guys will have nothing to catch either soo.. good luck commercial guys your (and possibly your children’s) lively hood is dying a slow miserable death. Stop all cod fishing for a while.

    • Big G

      The commercial and recreational fishery are each given a share of the cod quota at the start of the season. If the commercial fishery reaches their limit, they get shut down immediately, so they cannot exceed their quota. On the other hand, the recreational fishery caught almost DOUBLE their quota this year, yet they are still allowed to fish.

  15. Fernando Silva

    Why don’t you guys do like Europe did about 30 years ago? stop the commercial fishing for cod and give the commercial fisherman a monthly allowance to make up for it, you do this for 2 years then you going to see if the cod is coming back or not.
    I believe our government can find funds for this kind of issue.
    Because if you just stop the recreational fishing it’s not going to solve anything because the problem it’s not the recreational fishing is the commercial.

    • mark sharkey

      The funding is easy Fernando….We take 30% of the people that collect welfare when they should be working,and we subsidize the fisherman that would raise enough money, I have no problem with that.

  16. Redsoxwinagain

    Stop the dragging and gill netting – problem solved – I promise. I can’t even begin to imagine how many sharks are feasting on those net trapped fish and the draggers are very efficient at killing everything in a grid like approach to these critical areas.

    However, the real problem is the people who are suggesting these BS actions as they are only in favor of commercial fishing and keeping this problem changing rather than solving it. NMFS is made up of commercial or retired commercial fleet folks or scientists that want to secure their need in this and area.

    Time to give Trump a call and see if he can help clean NMFS house as these people are corrupt and ruining our fishery. I don’t trust them nor do I think they have made a sensible decision in years.

  17. Craig

    Good morning all, So many valid points I have just read! I was fortunate enough to work on a party boat through my youth in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Even as a 16 year old youth I could see the trend of having to travel greater distances every year to make a respectable catch. The feds waited 30 years to long to address the issue of over fishing. If a 16 year old kid could see this why was nothing done? The commercial industry is driven by MONEY and the feds are reaping the benefits. Making the recreational anglers who put millions of dollars back into local economies across this nation pay the price for commercial overfishing is a disgrace and not justified in any way. I feel that this trend will not change and unfortunately we the recreational fisherman will be the ones to pay the price. I will continue to travel offshore and catch a few haddock and continue to throw back multiple cod because that’s what I enjoy. Good luck and tight lines!!

  18. Edward Priestley

    we need to ban dragging the bottom I fish commercial tuna and ground fish with a rod and reel the only way to fish my uncle does to our families depends on a strong fishery. We can’t compete with the factory boats that buy the quota with there ace permit and get to drag when and where they want and sell frozen at sea haddock at a premium price and I get .62 cents per pound for fresh day boat fish the system is ****ED then I hear some stupid herring boat captain bragging about riding the bottom with his net to rip his shoes off so his net would open better **** off all you dragers

  19. Bill

    Everywhere I went last year I caught cod with many being 30-35″ fish. State waters east of
    Salem…. cod, West side of the bank…. cod, South East corner of the bank…cod, North side of the bank…cod, on the way to tillies…cod. The majority of these fish were all 24″ plus.
    I would like to see a 30 mile limit for a no dragging/no gill net gear zone.
    This would allow in shore bottom to heal up, develop structure, hold bait, and keep the
    inshore fishery hook & line only (tub trawl gear ok in my book).

  20. chris

    Eye witness report from January 2017, regarding the carnage going on right now on Stellwagen bank it’s a dragger fest:

    “Wow. I have felt more alone on the bank in July. Draggers everywhere”

  21. chris

    Jigging for cod is a favorite past time so this is a gut punch

    If you want a voice at the policy level, please consider joining the Coastal Conservation Association, they will push back against the “im just trying to feed my family science is fake” industry presence at every meeting

  22. Captain Mark

    With nets as big as Gillette Stadium, I find it difficult to believe the recreational angler is a major contributor to stock depletion. With regard to draggers, they need to stop. To put it another way, would we let hunters of farmers collect mammals with the same scorch and burn techniques? Never!

  23. kevin cowbass

    my name is Kevin, and ive been working in the Fulton Fish market for over 25 years. Ive been a die hard fisherman my entire life. When i first started working down there (new york city, Seaport,Fulton Fish Market) there was a huge abundance of every kind of fish, fresh, size and amount. Those days are long gone. since where talking about cod mostly, you used to have a pick. Strod (small cod) market cod (medium size) large and extra large. these days, your lucky too see a large cod, and if you do, it”s a couple days old and loaded with worms (cold water fish, prob close to Canada. unfort it”s not just the cod. it”s everything from fluke to flounder. even buefish. xmas time a rock hard frozen 10-15 pound bluefish goes for 2.50 cents a pound (whole fish) It”s sad. It”s a dying field, that was so plentiful just a short time ago. You cant point fingers at anyone. captains,fisherman,retail,wholesale salesmen, etc, etc. There told the limits there allowed to catch, when they can fish. there pretty much on a leash. And there”s no breaking rules. they”ll take your salesmen license away and shut down your store. All the science they claim they do, doesn’t put a scratch on the big picture. fish is going to be a rich mans meal. and the funny part is, it”s not even the fish they think it is.

  24. Rolmops

    These are all great points,but all of this is preaching to the choir. E-mail your state representative and make sure that he knows that he will loose your vote if he does not take action. Stop whining and start biting.

  25. Rolmops

    There are a lot more recreational fishermen then professionals, make your statement in the next elections.

  26. Bill

    I constantly hear the line something like, “Commercial guys catch more fish in one pull of the net than 20 rec guys can do all day.” This is a true statement but mostly meaningless. There are probably 1000 boats going out fishing each day for each commercial boat. Beyond that, the fish are the same fish, no matter who catches them or how they are caught. My proposal is to have a 6-year rotating schedule on each specific fish stock. One year, there should be 100% moratorium. No commercial. No recreational. The next year, there would be limits of 20% of what “they” think the total allowable catch should be. The next year would be 40%. and then 60% and the next year would be 80% and then, finally, 100%. Each fish type receives this treatment and it would be posted well in advance so commercial guys could plan to target other species and there would always be something to catch. This also works well with the fish survey methodology, since they would get 2 full surveys to be able to accurately project total biomass levels for the next 6-year cycle. There will be more fish and bigger fish and everyone wins.

  27. Dean

    Commercial fishing is a huge revenue stream for all of New England. They will kill every fish before they will be forced to give up that revenue. That’s your liberal politicians doing what they do best, fill their pockets!

    • Gene

      Dean I think you hit the nail in the head with that comment. I was last out July 7 2017, sadly I had some problems later in the day and had to get a tow, we went through the cod spawning area just south of the Isles of shoals and a dragger was going right through the middle.Why should they b able to drag that area at all and that close to shore. MONEY.


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