Cod stocks in the area remain overfished and are not on target to be rebuilt by 2024, according to new federal data. In its latest stock status for the Gulf of Maine Atlantic cod, NOAA Fisheries also reported that "overfishing is occurring" among an already-depleted population. The status is unchanged from NOAA's 2017 assessment.

"The Gulf of Maine Atlantic cod shows a truncated size and age structure, consistent with a population experiencing high mortality," researchers wrote in a 208-page report released Wednesday. "Additionally, there are only limited signs of incoming recruitment, continued low survey indices, and the current spatial distribution of the stock is considerably less than its historical range within the Gulf of Maine."

The cod assessment is part of an operational assessment, updated through 2018, of 14 Northeast groundfish stocks by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Cod was identified as a stock that is experiencing overfishing, and the report categorizes eight groundfish stocks as having been overfished.

In June, the Conservation Law Foundation's Peter Shelley wrote that the "storied cod population is on brink of collapse," asserting that "the iconic fish that gave Cape Cod its name has been in decline for decades because of intense fishing and poor management."

Online: 2019 Northeast Groundfish Operational Assessment Report. 

Recommended for you