An iconic catch that many of the world’s best fish farmers say is one of the greatest fisheries in the world is set to return to the Great Basin.
“The Raccoor Valley Fishery was the most abundant catch in the Great Lakes,” says Kevin Coyle, executive director of the RSC.
“Its size, diversity, and abundance has been known since the 1960s.
And now it is returning to the Gulf of Alaska, the largest and most productive of all the Gulf fisheries.”
The RSC, a nonprofit organization in New York, operates the Gulf Catch Fish Reserve (GCFFS) and has worked with fishermen for years to protect it from invasive species and disease.
The RSC and the RSPF are partnering on the RCS-funded RSC’s new program, the Gulf Catching and Restoration Program, which aims to conserve the RCCF’s most important fish and restore the Gulf to its historic condition.
The RCCFs biggest and most abundant fish, the Atlantic cod, is one-third of the fish stock.
For the last 30 years, the RCCCF has been a key player in the effort to recover Atlantic cod from the brink of extinction.
The fish is now being hunted for its value in seafood, as well as for its role in providing essential nutrients to Alaska’s food supply.
But the Gulf’s fish stocks are also under threat.
“The Atlantic cod is one the most threatened species of cod in the Gulf,” says David Waggoner, executive vice president of the Gulf Fish Association.
“It’s gone through a devastating mass extinction that began with overfishing and is continuing today.”
According to Waggner, the population of Atlantic cod in New England has been declining by about 40% in the last two decades.
Since the early 2000s, the number of cod that were killed has increased dramatically.
In the last year alone, there have been over 1,200 reported catches of Atlantic Cod in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Waggoner says that when the fish are depleted, the fisheries are not the only thing at risk.
The state’s commercial fishing industry, which provides over 90% of the state’s seafood, is at risk as well.
The state has had a problem with commercial fishing because the cod are caught from boats that are not certified to catch Atlantic cod.
But that doesn’t mean that the fishery is completely safe.
“In the past, cod was caught with boats that were certified, but then that boat was not certified anymore,” Waggener says.
“So we’re seeing more cod on boats, but they’re still being certified.”
The problem is not limited to Massachusetts.
“We have a problem here in New Jersey as well,” Wiggoner says.
“[The] fish is not caught from the Gulf, but it’s also caught from commercial fishing vessels.”
The state is now working with fishing industry groups to make sure that all boats are certified to carry Atlantic Cod.
“For the first time in 40 years, we have been able to go into a fishery that’s certified to do this fishery,” says Waggersen.
The Gulf Catch Fishery has a lot of good news for those who fish in the region.
It is also one of only two remaining Atlantic Cod fishery stocks in the United States.
“With the reintroduction of Atlantic Cods in the New York City area, we’ve been able at least temporarily to regain a few of our fishery fish stocks,” Wagner says.
Wagginer says that the fish is still recovering from the recent mass extinctions and that the state will have to work on its recovery plan for the next few years.
“We’re going to have to try to get the fishers to go back and work on their own fisheries, and then we’ll figure out how to restore these fisheries,” he says.
Wagoner says the Gulf catch fishery will help restore some of the fisher’s traditional methods.
“What we’re going do with this is we’re taking cod and putting it in the food chain,” he explains.
“You have to look at it as a kind of fish farm.”