New Net Aims to Help Maine Fishermen Land Fewer Cod

Portland’s Gulf of Maine Research Institute has designed a trawl net that aims to target species that can still be profitable while avoiding cod. Photo courtesy Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Some fishermen are pinning their hopes on a new kind of trawl net at use in the Gulf of Maine, designed to scoop up abundant flatfish such as flounder and sole while avoiding species such as cod, which regulators say are in severe decline.

For centuries, cod were plentiful and a prime target for the Gulf of Maine fleet. But in recent years catch quotas have been drastically reduced as the number of cod of reproductive age dropped perilously low, according to regulators.

For many boats, that turned the formerly prized groundfish into unwanted bycatch.

But, for fishermen, it can be tough to avoid cod while trying to catch other fish. And the stakes are high.

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