The New England Fishery Management Council today approved a year-to-year cut of 77 percent on the limit for Gulf of Maine cod, and 61 percent for Georges Bank cod.
Regulators say the new restrictions are necessary to help the cod population rebound. But fishermen say the cuts will make it nearly impossible for them to make a living.
Ben Martens represents small boat fishermen in Maine. He says cuts are a necessary evil, but wonders if these have gone too far.
"It's better than shutting down the entire Gulf of Maine to commercial fishing," Martens says. "But it's still a dramatic decrease from what we had this year. And a really scary place for commercial fishermen."
The new catch limits will be in place for the next three years. Regulators are also considering dramatic cuts in catch limits for other types of fish.
The Northeast's top federal fisheries regulator, John Bullard, acknowledged that the cuts will be devastating. He said stocks are in perilous condition and the cuts are needed to help stocks rebound and preserve any future for the groundfishery.
This story includes reporting by Samantha Fields and Tom Porter, along with material from The Associated Press.