NOAA Fisheries and the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) manage the US haddock fishery under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Implemented in 1986 to reduce fishing mortality on heavily fished groundfish stocks, the FMP and its subsequent amendments covers 20 stocks from 13 different species including haddock, Atlantic cod, Atlantic pollock, winter flounder, and other groundfish. Grouping these species together as one FMP allows the NEFMC to more effectively manage these species as they are often targeted using the same gear types in the same locations.
Management measures for Haddock as outlined by the Northeast Multispecies FMP include:
- Permit requirements;
- Time and area closures to control fishing pressure and to protect spawning populations and sensitive habitats;
- Gear modifications – specifically size restrictions and requirements that mesh on trawl nets be large enough to let small, juvenile fish escape;
- Annual catch limits on the amount of groundfish that can be caught as well as bycatch limits; and,
- Size limits to ensure juveniles can spawn at least once before capture.
Additionally, fishers can participate in an optional catch share program that allows vessels to fish together in sectors. Those fishers whom participate in the catch share are exempt from certain gear and areas restrictions, but must stop fishing once their sector catches their pre-determined allocation of fish. Participating in the catch share allows fishers to choose when, where, and how they fish and allows for more flexibility in targeting stocks that are not overfished.
Fishers operating in the Northeast Multispecies Fishery must follow management measures as outline in the Harbor Porpoise and Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plans to reduce interactions as well as unintended catch of marine mammals. These measures include gear restrictions, seasonal closures, and having acoustic alarms on nets. New England fishers often implement other voluntary measures to reduce marine mammal interactions such as reducing vessel turns and tow times during night fishing and increased communication between vessels when marine mammals are spotted in the area.
Commercial landings for haddock were valued at US $11.5 million in 2014. 2015 stock assessments indicate that both the Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine stock are not overfished nor subject to overfishing.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada manages the Canadian haddock fishery. The majority of the Canadian haddock stock and as such, commercial fishing, occurs in eastern Georges Bank – a transboundary resource between the US and Canada. The two countries collaboratively manage this stock through the Canada-United States Transboundary Management Guidance Committee that was established in 2000. In 2004 Canada and the US implemented a formal quota-sharing agreement to share the Georges Bank haddock harvest. The agreement includes a total allowable catch for each country and in-season monitoring for the US haddock catch.