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  • Fig. 1 Gulf of Maine and Georges Banks

    haddock stocks.

    Fig. 2 Canadian haddock stock harvest


    Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested


    Criteria: The fishery is managed by a competent authority and has a management plan in place that incorporates a science-based approach to ensure sustainability.

    Haddock stocks in the Gulf of Maine region are

    managed separately according to where the fish is

    harvested. The Gulf of Maine (GOM) and Georges

    Bank (GB) haddock stocks (Fig. 1) are managed by

    the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and

    the New England Fishery Management Council

    (NEFMC), under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery

    Management Plan. Haddock harvested in Gulf of

    Maine regions Canadian waters (Fig. 1 and 2) is

    managed by the Canadian Department of Fisheries

    and Oceans (DFO), through the Scotia-Fundy

    Groundfish Management Plan. Because haddock stocks can extend across international

    maritime boundaries, some eastern GB haddock is managed jointly by the U.S. and Canada. These management bodies apply the

    best available science to determine the harvest levels that result in healthy stock sizes and long-term viability of the resource.

    Criteria: If stock sizes are below management target levels, whether due to natural or man-made causes, management plans are established that enable rebuilding within a specified timeframe.

    GOM and GB haddock stocks are considered fully rebuilt by NMFS. Canadian haddock stocks in the northern region of the Gulf of

    Maine are currently above target levels with fishing effort being managed to prevent the stocks from reaching unsustainable levels.

    Harvesting of Canadian haddock stocks in eastern Georges Banks is also well regulated in relation to stock size, resulting in a healthy


    Criteria: Sufficient data exists to determine harvest levels. Harvest levels for the GOM and GB haddock are set in the form of Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) by the New England Fishery

    Management Council. Surveys and landings data are some of the types of information used to determine ACLs. Managers also

    account for uncertainty in data when determining appropriate harvest levels for haddock. Similar data is used by Canadian

    managers to determine harvest levels, or Total Allowable Catch (TAC,) of Canadian haddock. The TAC of the trans-boundary haddock

    stock is determined through a collaborative effort between Canada and the US.

    Criteria: Monitoring and compliance measures are in place to ensure acceptable harvest levels. Haddock caught by U.S. vessels in the Gulf of Maine region is monitored through vessel trip reports (VTRs), observers, dealer reports,

    dockside monitoring, electronic reporting, and field enforcement. These efforts ensure compliance with regulated harvest levels. The

    harvest of haddock in Canada is assessed through dockside monitoring, at-sea monitoring, and electronic vessel monitoring systems.

    These tools are used to track landings and monitor compliance of harvest levels.

    Criteria: Enforcement exists to ensure that harvesters follow regulations, and to prevent illegal practices and unreported harvest.

    The U.S. Coast Guard, NMFS Office of Law Enforcement agents, and state marine patrol agents enforce the laws and regulations

    governing the harvest of GOM and GB haddock. In Canada, DFO through regular patrols is responsible for enforcing haddock

    management regulations.

  • Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested

    Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus)

    To learn more about GMRIs collaborative fisheries research in the Gulf of Maine region, check out the GMRIs Science Research webpage at

    For more information on the Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested program, visit



    Haddock stock levels have returned to impressive numbers after

    experiencing low biomass numbers during the early 1990s (Figure 3).

    Management efforts such as closed areas, increased net mesh size, and

    limiting the amount of haddock caught per trip, along with

    environmental factors, can be attributed to the recent sustainable

    levels of haddock.

    By 2002 in the U.S., the New England Fishery Management Council had

    implemented five expansive closed fishing areas throughout the Gulf of

    Maine region to help alleviate fishing pressure and to aid in rebuilding

    low haddock stock levels. The closures were established in certain

    areas that included known haddock nurseries and regions of high

    haddock abundance. Commercial fishing within these closed areas was

    prohibited, with the exception of hook and line gear which has a

    minimal habitat impact.

    Research conducted by GMRI scientists involved tracking haddock in

    closed areas, and results showed that haddock within the closed areas

    tended to remain there. Other research suggests that as the

    abundance of haddock increased in the closed areas, many fish moved into legal fishing areas. While haddock

    numbers benefited from these closed areas, researchers also acknowledge that environmental factors, such as

    current patterns, also played an important role in haddock stocks rebounding.





    In response to the cod bycatch issue, researchers have begun to experiment with various fishing gear designs that

    would maximize haddock catches, while minimizing cod bycatch. Through collaboration between industry

    members and researchers, innovative fishing gears, such as the separator trawl, have been developed. The

    separator trawl is designed to reduce the number of cod caught without impacting the amount of haddock

    caught. When approached by a trawl net, cod tend to swim down while haddock swim upwards. These trawl nets

    separate the downward swimming cod from the haddock, allowing the cod to escape through net openings or

    larger mesh sizes while haddock swim up into the net to be harvested. Tests of these nets have resulted in

    greater haddock catches with reduced numbers of cod.

    Figure 3. Biomass and landings of GOM and

    GB haddock.


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