DANVERS — The New England Fisheries Management Council expects to move to reduce the annual catch limit for Gulf of Maine cod in 2015 if an impending peer review process shows the dire conclusions of recently completed, if unscheduled, NOAA stock assessment are accurate.
“We are operating under the assumption that we will need to modify the ACL for 2015,” council Executive Director Tom Nies told members of the NEFMC’s groundfish committee on Monday as the council and industry stakeholders continue to absorb the deflating preliminary results of the study that quickly has become the source of controversy.
Late last Friday afternoon, NOAA’s Northeast Fishery Science Center revealed it had conducted the unscheduled study and said the preliminary results “present a grim picture for the potential recovery of this iconic fish stock” because of alarmingly low spawning biomass levels and survey indices that project to all-time lows across the board.
Those preliminary results have generated concern over the overall health and future of the cod stock that is at the very center of the federally declared groundfish fishery disaster.
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