We are often asked to describe various types of fishing gear and explain which ones are the most destructive to the ocean. Another frequent question is why our seafood ratings for a particular species differ depending on the fishing method used. To help answer these questions, we decided to create a Fishing Gear 101 blog series. In this series, we will describe how common types of gear work, what they catch, how they affect ocean wildlife and habitats, what technologies or regulations can help lessen the gear’s negative effects, and what we see as the path forward to ensure healthy oceans in the future.
Last month, Atlantic bluefin tuna and conservationists scored a major victory when U.S. fishery managers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued much needed new measures to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna from capture in surface longline fishing gear.
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.