DURHAM, N.H. – New cod and haddock rules for recreational fishermen fishing in New Hampshire state waters (0 to 3 miles from shore) take effect May 1, 2015, the N.H. Fish and Game Department reported today.
Under the new rules:
• All cod caught in state waters must be immediately released.
• For haddock, the size limit has been reduced from 21 to 17 inches, and the state waters closed season for haddock has changed to the months of September, October, March and April. The current daily bag limit of three fish will remain unchanged.
These rule changes reflect recently announced federal rules for cod and haddock that are in effect as of May 1 for recreational anglers and party/charter vessels fishing in federal waters (3-200 miles from shore) in the Gulf of Maine.
These rule changes came in response to recent peer-reviewed stock assessments conducted by scientists at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center that show improved resource conditions for Gulf of Maine haddock and further declining conditions for Gulf of Maine cod. The stock assessment for haddock concluded that overfishing is not occurring and the stock is fully rebuilt to healthy levels of abundance. This prompted National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) to reduce the recreational minimum size limit for haddock from 21 to 17 inches and increase the quotas. The reduction in the size limit will reduce the number of haddock being discarded, while keeping the size limit at a level where more than 50% if the haddock are sexually mature.
“Almost all haddock are caught in federal waters, so state rules were changed to reflect the new federal rules so that anglers could legally possess the smaller haddock when they brought them to shore in New Hampshire,” said Doug Grout, Chief of Marine Fisheries at the N.H. Fish and Game Department.
In contrast, the 2014 stock assessment for Gulf of Maine cod concluded that overfishing was occurring, and the stock continues to be overfished despite dramatic reductions in quotas and harvest in recent years. With spawning stock biomass continuing to decline to the lowest level ever estimated and very low recruitment of age-1 cod in recent years, NOAA Fisheries reduced quotas by another 75% and continued the zero possession limit on cod for recreational anglers that was put in place in November via an interim action.
“Given the stock assessment’s conclusion that the cod population is in very poor condition, it is important that we require all cod caught in state waters be released immediately,” said Grout. “In fact, if you catch a cod while fishing for some other species, I would recommend that you move your boat to another fishing location, because a portion of all cod released will die, and that mortality is counted toward the recreational quota.”
For further information on state rules, go to http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/marine/rules.html.
For more information about changes to rules for federal waters, go to http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=cdbdad1f-92de-4f7d-9edc-f2697ecf14b0&c=7978d010-43e5-11e4-8b75-d4ae52a6892e&ch=7aca2f40-43e5-11e4-8e70-d4ae52a6892e
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state’s marine, fish and wildlife resources and their habitats. The Department’s Marine Fisheries Division is located in Durham, N.H. Visit http://www.wildnh.com/marine.