In April 2013, John Bullard, NOAA’s chief northeast regional administrator, first imposed draconian cuts of up to 78 percent in fishermen’s allowable landings of cod and other groundfish species. And at the time, he called it the fishing industry’s and fishing communities’ “day of reckoning” over stock declines.

But, if NOAA’s new stocks data is to be believed, those dire cuts have failed, and the Gulf of Maine cod, in particular, remains seriously threatened.

So Bullard is now prepared to deliver a series of measures to the New England Fishery Management Council later this month that will go far beyond any “day or reckoning” to the region’s groundfishing fleet. Any such new mandates must be challenged legally and on the legislative level in Washington.

Even if NOAA’s latest assessments are correct, closing new areas won’t protect the cod unless the agency documents cod are spawning and swimming in those areas. Sadly, any new closures will only block fishermen trying to transition toward landing more species such as gray sole, dabs, haddock and flounder — along with other stocks that are not deemed threatened. That seems “punitive.”

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