Does the Atlantic Cod, Gadus morhua,
Have a Future In The Gulf of Maine?
Eric O. Brazer Jr.
A Bachelors Thesis
Brown University Center For Environmental Studies
Historically the Gulf of Maine was home to some of the most
productive and famous fishing grounds in New England. The cod
fishery in Maine and Massachusetts ranked among the richest in the
world. Unfortunately due mostly to overfishing, habitat loss, and
effects of regulations, landings have declined by nearly 91% between
1990 and 1999, from 17,781 metric tons to 1,636 metric tons. Federal
and state regulations have been implemented to try and reverse this
trend and include increased minimum size requirements, increased
trawl mesh size, daily catch limits, permit restrictions, and rolling area
closures. This cod fishery has changed from the most productive in the
world to one of the most heavily regulated. Can these regulations
provide the Atlantic Cod a future in the Gulf of Maine?
• Introduction to Cod
– Cod Biology
– The Cod Fishery
- Commercial and Recreational
- NMFS Bottom Trawl Surveys
- Trend in cod compared to trend in
- Has Cod Management been effective?
- Regulatory History
- Cod trends vs. Regulatory History
• Summary of findings/Conclusions
• Recommendations: Where does the
cod go from here?
Scott Orringer holding a cod
Photo courtesy of WNERR
An Introduction to Cod
Photo courtesy of Captain Bill Lee (personal communication)
Where to Live, What to Eat?
• “Barbell” thought to be used for prey detection
The Ones That Didn’t
• Average weight today: 5-10 pounds
• World Record: 98 lbs. 12 oz.
– Caught off Isles of Shoals, NH in 1969
• Records show a 180-pound caught off
Georges Bank in 1838
• Largest cod on record was caught off
Massachusetts in 1895 and weighed 211
Photos courtesy of www.bunnyclark.com
Life as a Cod