Cape Cod, MA, United States (4E Sports) – Scientists are looking into reasons in the sudden drop in cod population in the Gulf of Maine, which stretches from Nova Scotia to Cape Cod.
For generations, this fishing ground has been known as the spot for catching cod.
However, cod population has shrunk for decades, dropped off precipitously in the last few years.
Last year, commercial fishermen caught just two million pounds of cod in the Gulf of Maine, down from 13.1 million pounds in 2009. Two decades ago, fishermen hauled in 30.5 million pounds.
Some fishing regulations have been put in place over the decades to prevent overfishing, but recently, fishermen couldn’t even reach the annual limit of 14 million pounds.
“It really fell apart in the last two years,” said Greg Walinski, who has made a living fishing in Cape Cod for 35 years. “We’re at the point now where it’s become economically impossible to do it.”
This month scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote that their new analysis “presents a grim picture for the potential recovery of the iconic fish stock.”
The scientists added that the amount of fish big enough to spawn off the Gulf of Maine is at 3 percent to 4 percent of normal levels.
Experts are planning to meet Thursday and Friday to review the analysis and try to figure out what to do next.
The decline of the fish has dealt an economic blow to the hundreds of Cape Cod fishermen who used to spend their whole year catching cod.
Most have switched to skate and dogfish, which are often canned and shipped to Europe. Some have given up fishing in the winter to work construction while others have left the industry entirely.