The Fixed Gear Sector
Fixed Gear Sector
After New England's first sector, the Georges Bank Cod Hook Sector, was approved in 2004, local gillnet fishermen became interested in creating a sector approach to fishing limits. Many of these fishermen used both gillnets and hooks throughout the year, and after talking with the hook fishermen and the Fishermen's Alliance, they set out to develop a sector that incorporated both of these types of gear (gear fixed in place, as opposed to mobile gear such as trawl nets towed across the bottom).
In 2006, the National Marine Fisheries Service approved the second sector in New England—the Georges Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector—with an annual catch limit on cod.
Unfortunately, bottom-dwelling species of groundfish like cod and flounder had continued to decline during the preceding three years, even as regulations got tighter. In response, fishermen in other ports turned to the Fishermen's Alliance and our fishermen to learn more about how the sector approach could work for their fishing communities.
In response to recommendations from across the fishing industry, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the New England Fishery Management Council began to iron out a major expansion of the sector approach for all groundfish, such as cod, haddock, flounder, pollock and hake. Working with fishermen and providing more than 100 opportunities for public comment, they created a new sector management plan, approved in 2009. This plan created opportunities for fishermen throughout New England—more than 1,000 vessels based in ports from Maine to North Carolina to create and join sectors.