Massachusetts Anglers: Comment Today On Cod And Haddock Regs

Massachusetts Seeks Comment on Cod and Haddock Limits

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) must decide between continuing to allow a 1-cod limit in state waters and keeping the haddock fishery open to anglers during the month of May – and they need to hear from you before they make this important decision.

Background: DMF adopted a 1-cod limit for private anglers in the state waters portion of the Gulf of Maine (GOM) in 2015, after the catch of GOM cod by all recreational anglers was prohibited in federal waters. (DMF did not support the federal closure as it prohibited private citizens from accessing a public resource while continuing to allow a commercial fishery to access the same resource.) Recently, The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) voted to recommend that if the Commonwealth of Massachusetts continues to allow private recreational anglers to retain one GOM cod per trip, there must be additional constraints on haddock. Specifically, the Council recommended closing the haddock fishery in May for private recreational anglers, and lowering the haddock possession limit from 12 fish to 10 fish for the for-hire fleet (while keeping their season open in May).

Accordingly, DMF is seeking public comment on how to address the recent Council recommendation. Of specific interest is whether to: (1) eliminate the existing state-waters private anglers 1-fish allowance for GOM cod and retain status quo regulations for GOM haddock, or (2)  maintain our private angler allowance for cod and require additional constraints on GOM haddock. Per the Council’s recommendation, the latter option would result in a 2-fish reduction in the for-hire bag GOM haddock limit (from 12-fish to 10-fish) and a May GOM haddock closure for private anglers. See the chart below for full details.


Instructions for Written Comments

Written public comment only will be accepted until 5PM on Friday, February 23, 2018.

Please address all comments to Director Pierce at


    • Carl

      Sorry guys the commercial guys destroyed the fishery.
      The sad part is they get to continue netting fish.
      They need to feed their families, lol.
      Dont wast your time soon their will be nothing left.
      Thank god i dont eat fish
      Tight lines : )

    • gburg61

      the very idea that a handfull of fisherman with fishing poles will effect the whole ATLANTIC ocean fishing is so far past insane I have NO words…This is a False disaster alarm to entitle Govt to more funds because “or else” will happen…fear driven legislation. Meanwhile commercial fishing from all over continue

    • RT

      The move to keep an inshore cod fishery open is just plain wrong, May is the best month for haddock fishing. It’s a mistake to give up the best thirty days of haddock fishing for a handful (maybe) of small inshore cod. Only charter captains will have access to the haddock resource at its peak, and recreational guys will be shut out. That’s not the smart move.

      If you will kill a month of fishing for other people so that you can catch a couple of small inshore cod you’re not going to make any friends and you are not what the fishing community needs.

    • Brian

      My preference is to reduce commercial fishing to none and to fire this council and hire a new one that is capable of making better suggestions.

  1. Rolf Gjesteby

    Please leave it the same, as I do fish privately with my friends for Haddock and Cod in May near the Mass coast. Thanks

  2. kevin day

    I like the preferred(status quo) as a recreational fisherman I like to get the boat on the water early april and be able to fish for something worthwhile thank you

  3. RIck vincuas

    to make recreational fisherman decide between two bad options linking cod and haddock together is ridiculous. They are two different species with different stock assessments and life cycles and should be managed independently. If they think the haddock are being over fished then increase the size limit from 17 inches to 19,29,or 21 inches and or reduce the bag limit. I fear that by not allowing fishing in the month of May the total catch will go down and in a few years this lower catch total will become the new historic catch figure used to divi up the catch shares. The nemfc has had 30 plus years to manage the cod population with abysmal results. Either they are incompetent and should be replaced,or they have purposely created a crisis in the cod stocks so that stellwagen can be shut down. Either way they should all be replaced When they send surveys to see how much you would accept to not fish ,or they say that all cod caught and released are

  4. Robert C. Hall

    Keep the status quo for GOM haddock, i.e., recreational fishing in May…..Eliminate the GOM fishing for cod in federal and state waters.

  5. Robert C. Hall

    Keep status quo for haddock in GOM. Eliminate GOM cod in federal and state waters…..

  6. Jon Piasecki

    On a different note, I have been wondering why it was such a bad bluefish year in 2017 relative to 2016. I recently found this:

    The message of which is a 40% increase in the commercial quota and a 16% reduction in the recreational quota. We need to inundate the state and federal regulatory agencies with angry letters before they hand out more of our great fishing to the handful of commercial guys.


    Close MA cod and be the same as all new england…the charters take 70 on board – times 10- 700 fish every trip and they don’t even pay for a license.. How is that fair to the recreational fisherman? Someone needs to look out for the rec fisherman that spends billions of dollars a yr .

  8. Brian J

    Everybody’s not gonna like this but the cod and Haddick fisheries in mass and Rhode Island still have fish yes but in order to maintain fish for future generations this fishery needs to be close for the next 10 years commercially and recreationally hands-down there’s other fish to catch The sad part is we did it to ourselves with of course some help from the CODfather 😔 If you don’t agree with my short statement you must have a small level of greed lingering inside you think about it

    • Bill

      I actually agree with this idea, but will go one step further… I think every single fishery with multi-year life cycles (fish born this year and caught 3+ years later) should have a mandatory year-long closure to rec., charter and comm. every 5 years. A 3-year closure every 10 years would also work well, in my mind. Fish would have 0 fishing mortality and would have exceptional young-of-year classes.

  9. Jim Dodrill

    I visited the Gulf of Maine last summer. I can not believe the degree to which this massive fishery has been mismanaged. Somewhere in the guardianship the wolves have been in charge of the sheep. Haddock,striper,cod, etc., one fish or less for the recreational fisherman! Removes the word subsistence from our language. Why would any rec fisherman want to cooperate with those charged with the fisheries mamnagement.

    • john sorcenelli

      I prefer the 10/day bag limit for haddock with 1 modification
      In my opinion there are enough cod out there to allow ALL anglers a 1/day bag limit on cod. You would not be eliminating a class of anglers(for hire), and you would have better compliance with the boat crews monitoring,vs. the private angler that you ASSUME would comply with the regs

  10. John Scag

    I think a single angler doesn’t need 12 haddock 6or 8. Is fine raise cod to 4or5 then it’s worth trip out to bank When ever we go out there we have to move because there to many cod. Sounds like their preparing us for stellwagon shut down

  11. John Pierce

    Both choices suck. The people that destroyed the fishery are still fishing. These resources belong to everyone. Why does someone not stand up for the private anglers. I think the lessor of the two evils would be to eliminate the cod fishery for inshore anglers though I fail to see how one cod or 2 per boat makes a great difference.

  12. Robert Woodbury

    Being an avid recreational saltwater fisherman from New Hampshire that fishes out of Maine I can’t quite grasp the reasoning of closing haddock fishing for the month of May because of Mass. anglers being allowed one cod per day I state waters.
    We fish the GOM mesh area, specifically Jeffreys ledge, dozens of times per season and we find that Haddock are abundant throughout the area with no concern of shortages.
    You allow the commercial fisherman a quota of cod, the ones who created the cod shortage in the first place, but penalize the recreational fisherman who probably make no significant mark in the taking of cod.
    2 years now we haven’t been allowed to take cod, even though we catch cod frequently on every trip throughout the season.
    Is this a fair assessment of how the fish are equally distributed throughout the industry? I don’t believe so.
    You open seasons for recreational fisherman in the middle of winter, when almost all recreational fisherman have pulled their boats in for the winter, and yet you are chipping away at the best times to take their fish of supposed concern.
    I realize your concern for the cod industry and tolerate the laws that have been put in place to help them get back on their feet. But… please make the laws fair and equitable for both recreational and commercial fisherman, instead of favoring one over the other.
    I can’t imagine that many cod would be taken from state waters in Mass. by recreational fisherman considering we have to travel 30 miles out to sea to catch any significant sized cod in the GOM mesh area.
    It’s a sad day in the fishing industry when a recreational angler isn’t allowed to take and possess a cod fish in the north atlantic ocean, but if that is what it takes to correct the wrongs of the past, then, by all means don’t allow Mass. recreational anglers be able to retain cod in their state waters and don’t penalize other states anglers for the poor judgment of a few. Remember….. federal super cedes state regulations.

  13. Big fish

    Make it 6cod6haddock and Mother Nature will take care of the numbers Last spring we had to drive half mile away to get away from all the cod They don’t look in danger To me

  14. Mike

    The scientific studies still don’t
    Offer clear results that are accepted as fact. As you read
    comments, What fishermen
    truely find continues to be ignored in studies that are supported by government $.
    Is there a process to include an independent review of all information not bound by the government until factual results are processed? REFER to the book, “COD” PUBLISHED on the cod depletion in the North Sea.
    When the public read and hear
    of continued mismanagement
    it becomes as dizzying attempt
    to know all the species status
    Due to the study Areas used, it would beneficial to have coordination of government monitors on board fishing trips, as well as ports that handle reception of species in question.
    Therefore, all parties would see,
    without compromise, where all consummers would recognize
    TRUTH of fish habitats/
    numbers that would lead to agreeable measurements due to
    the species habitat, not human

  15. jeff

    I agree that recreational anglers do not get a fair shake in any of the fishing regs compared to a small percentage of commercial folks in each fishery. I do feel thought from my experience on large head boats that service recreational anglers that we have a major problem. Limits are not followed on these boats by the majority of anglers and by the boat captains and deck hands alike. The amount of fish the large head boats harvest over a season is large and they are not following the rules. I am sure some do but not the ones I have been on. I have had deck hands ask if I want to keep a Cod when he knows it was short! We should have periodic fish monitors (undercover) on these boats to keep them honest. I feel this is a place where we need to address exploitation of the fishery. Rec guys want more but we need to police better what we are given and make sure we are following the regs. The canal was a great example of that this year. Fines need to increase also for violations as has been mentioned by many folks on different post here.

  16. John C

    If the Feds are going to ban recreational guys/gals from fishing public waters, then they need to BAN the Commercial fishermen as well and let the grounds recover. Or at least restrict them to hook and line Rod or Tub Trawl which has to set and removed the same day. My father tub trawled for years and did quite well. He would set 10 tubs a day and haul back 10 tubs a day.

  17. Dave K

    We can shut down the fishery to rebuild the fish stocks, and this has worked, and is working. The problem is once it’s open to the commercial draggers the cod cannot excape the nets. Vessels with large nets and modern electronics can wipe out the stocks in a few seasons. Perhaps some areas need to be off limits to draggers and recreational anglers allowed a two fish cod limit per angler. This would not devistate the fishery and let fisherman bring home a dinner for their family.

  18. Fishwish

    The cod stocks in the GOM are in total collapse and must be left alone . The haddock stocks have come back and are doing well remember the 1990s there were no haddock . We must stop the draggers as they destroy everything they touch fish
    And ocean habitat. Let’s leave the cod alone and be thankful we have haddock
    To catch a 12 fish limit sounds good with no cod for anyone rec. or commercial


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