A couple of weeks ago, the situation for New England’s iconic Atlantic cod went from bad to dismal. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the new assessment for Gulf of Maine cod shows that the already depleted population has declined to a mere 3-4% of a sustainable abundance level [which is likely less than 2% of its un-fished abundance]. This is down from previous cod abundance estimates in 2011 of 12-18% of a sustainable level. Scientists say that surveys of cod show abundance is at an all-time low. And scientists found very few young cod, another bad sign1.
For sixty years, U.S. fishermen targeting yellowfin tuna and swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean with longlines have been capturing and killing severely depleted bluefin tuna. Longlines, which can stretch for 40 miles long and contain hundreds of hooks, are very indiscriminate, catching many other non-target species as well.