Faced with dangerously declining cod stocks, New England fisheries officials voted yesterday to massively cut cod quotas—down 77% from last year's catch for the next three years in the Gulf of Maine, and by 61% for the next year in Georges Bank, near Cape Cod, reports the New York Times. The new limit would reduce the cod catch to 1,550 metric tons in the Gulf, down from 8,000 tons a decade ago, and trim the industry from $80 million to an estimated $55 million.
“We are headed, slowly, seeming inexorably, to oblivion,” said a leading oceanographer on the fisheries panel. The cuts are deep, but officials say they're the result of decades of overfishing—today cod stocks in the Gulf of New England are just 18% of what scientists consider healthy. In Georges Bank, that figure is just 7%. But many fishermen say the cuts will drive them out of business. "I'm bankrupt. That's it," one fisherman told the AP. "I'm all done. The boat's going up for sale." Said another as he exited the vote, "I'm leaving here in a coffin." (Read more New England stories.)