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Gulf of Maine haddock best practice recommendations

Recreational anglers can play a vital role in sustaining a healthy population of cod and haddock in the Gulf of Maine.

For several years, the Division of Marine Fisheries, the New England Aquarium's Anderson Cabot Center, Rutgers and UMass Dartmouth have partnered with the recreational fishery industry to study release mortality in the Gulf of Maine. The results are simple guidelines to help anglers fish responsibly for haddock, while preserving local cod populations. 

Funding for this project provided by: NOAA's Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program (Award #NA17NMF4720253)

Key Recommendations

  1. If you are catching cod, move to a new location.
    • All cod caught in the Gulf of Maine must currently be thrown back. Don’t waste your bait on them!  
  2. Fish with bait, not with jig.
    • You will help preserve fish populations. Cod and haddock caught with bait have a higher survival rate after being released than fish caught with a jig.
    • Your catch rates will be higher! You will double your catch rate of haddock if you use baited hooks instead of a jig.
    • It will help you avoid cod. You are more than 2.5 times more likely to catch haddock than cod when using baited hooks.
    • You will injure the fish less.
      • Cod and haddock are 4.5-5 time more likely to be hooked in a sensitive area (throat, head, gills, or belly) if caught on jig.
      • You are nearly 5 times more likely to foul hook (hook in an area outside of the mouth) a haddock if you use jig.
      • You are 9 times more likely to foul hook (hook in an area outside of the mouth) a cod if you use jig.
      • Jigs are at least 10 times more likely to severely injure cod or haddock.
  3. If you are new to fishing, ask for help.
    • Experienced anglers can get a fish back in nearly half the time as an inexperienced angler.
    • Inexperienced anglers take more than 1.5 times longer to unhook fish than experienced anglers.
    • Unhooking times for experienced anglers are about 40% lower than inexperienced anglers.

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