WASHINGTON (Saving Seafood) April 21, 2011 — The following response to the Gloucester Daily Times article "Catch limit 'increases' don't add up" has been received by Saving Seafood from NOAA Fisheries Northeast Regional Administrator Pat Kurkul:
We could focus on the combined quota totals, but total catch is more relevant to the health of the fishery, the fish stocks, and fishing communities. That’s why we are publicizing the increases in limits for twelve smaller stocks rather than the decreases in three relatively large ones—the two haddock stocks and pollock. The increases make it more likely that total catch in 2011 will be higher than in 2010, including that for pollock and haddock.
The fishery is not managed under a combined quota, but rather by quotas for each of 20 stocks. If a quota for a small stock is reached, it can restrain fishing for all other groundfish species. Because more of the smaller stocks can be taken in 2011, there will be more opportunity to catch these as well as other fish, like pollock and haddock.
The 2011 catch limits for haddock and pollock are lower than in 2010, but still three times higher than the 2010 actual catch so far from these stocks. The catch limits, although lower than in 2010, are not expected to be much of a barrier to higher catch in 2011.
It is true that catch limits for 2011 were initially set in 2010. However, NOAA changed catch limits for several species during 2010, including that for Georges Bank yellowtail for 2011. We hope publicizing the 2011 limits will help to mitigate any confusion about the limits for the upcoming year.