Atlantic groundfish ;strong prices provide limited relief in wake of severe quota cuts
New England ´s groundfish market is ready to receive fish .The trouble is not wnough fish is being landed and everyone is in scramble trying to figure out how to survive .
In 2016 severe cuts were made to some key groundfish species .Georges Bank cod is down 66 percent ,Georges Bank flounder is down 69 percent , and southern New England yellowtail is down 61 percent .These cuts have made the quotas tiny .
Quotas that have remained strong and redfish ,pollock and haddock .Boats that work Georges Bankfor haddock are allowed to harvest 51,667 metric tons.Trouble is haddock is not always easy to find and the size is smaller than buyers would like.This has kept the price between 70 cents and a $1 per pound.
Codfish ,flounder and yellowtail prices have remained stronf all summer .”The prices have been astronomical “, says Sonny Stanley at Bergie´s Seafood ,a New Bedford wholesaler .”The price is averaging about $3 a pound , and I am guessing they are going to stay strong.The high prices are carrying these guys “.
But inconsistent landings resulting from small fishing quotas do create availability problems .Fish houses can fill the void by bringing in high quality frozen-at-sea product from the West Coast ,Iceland and Norway .Options for the boasts are far less .
To stretch out the days and keep the price up , many New Bedford boasts have set themselves a trip limit of between 6,000 and 8,000 pounds of flounder .Fishermen and sector managers are constatly swapping fish ,leasing fish ,loaning fish or buying fish .Everyone is trying to avoid codfish , a choke species.
“We are constantly worried about running out of quota .When we do get out , we have some good trips .The fish are there .The quota is not “,says Tom Vinagre ,co-owner of the New Bedford trawler Hercules .
Vinagre has four groundfish permits stacked on his vessel .”The permits all had great history but now because of the recent cutbacks , that history is gone .If the fish prices drop , a lot of guys will be in trouble “.