From: Eric Tucker, Associated Press
Published September 15, 2005 12:00 AM

Report Says New England's Cod Populations Decreased in 2004

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Adult cod in New England waters decreased in 2004 as overfishing continued, according to a report released Tuesday by federal regulators.


Environmental groups warned that the cod stock, a longtime staple of New England, could again be near collapse.


"Fishery management in New England has been a series of failures where New England's world-renowned cod fishery is now at the brink of collapse due to continued overfishing," said Chris Zeman of Oceana, an oceans advocacy group.


But a spokeswoman for the federal NOAA fisheries agency said that fishing rates were being controlled and that such dire predictions were unfounded.


"I don't see how you can draw that conclusion based on this report," said the spokeswoman, Teri Frady.


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The population of cod found near Georges Bank, off southern New England, has decreased by 25 percent since 2001, the report shows. Cod stocks in the Gulf of Maine dropped 21 percent.


The government in May 2004 implemented strict new fishing regulations. Russell Sherman, a fisherman in Gloucester, Mass., said not enough time has passed to assess if the rules are helping the fish stocks.


"When is somebody going to give these regulations a little time? That's what I want to know," Sherman said Tuesday. "This is the age of instant gratification."


But environmentalists said the report shows that fish are being caught at too high a rate to sustain their populations.


Source: Associated Press


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