Marine Fisheries promotes sustainable, rebuilt resource
In recent years we have rarely heard positive news about the status of groundfish stocks in New England. The iconic cod stocks of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank have declined; scientific projections of several species of flatfish have been pessimistic; and both commercial and recreational fisheries have faced large reductions in catch limits for most groundfish species. However, there is a completely rebuilt species now more abundant in our New England waters than it has been in nearly 40 years—haddock! The haddock success story didn’t happen overnight, but with some luck and the diligent efforts of fisheries scientists and managers, including those at MarineFisheries, haddock is incredibly abundant and now an excellent choice and example of sustainable seafood consumption.
The unprecedented 1963 year class likely kept the Georges Bank haddock stock from total collapse during the increased fishing effort era of the 1970s; however, it presented a scientific challenge in determining the cause for such a large recruitment event that didn’t happen again until 40 years later. The 2003 year class was nearly double the size of the 1963 year class, and questions about what caused these massive recruitment events still remained. Fortunately, less than a decade later, in 2010, another enormous year class was observed on Georges Bank, only to be surpassed by the largest year class ever observed in 2013. Similarly, the Gulf of Maine haddock stock had historic huge recruitment events in 2012 and 2013, and both stocks were declared rebuilt in 2008.