Cod fisherman may see a big bump in their catches

STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Tom Williams Sr.’s family has been fishing for generations, and he says the cod catch has been plentiful even though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it was at an all-time low in 2016.

“Fish have tails and they move,” said Williams.

cod fisherman tom williams sr 3 Cod fisherman may see a big bump in their catches
(Photo: Tina Detelj/WTNH)

Williams says that means the government’s survey ship might not see everything that’s out there. Still, he’s happy to hear NOAA now believes cod could be on the rebound and when fishing season starts May 1. Williams expects cod catch limits to jump 156 percent at George’s Bank West which includes the area south of Block Island where Stonington boats go.

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“We’re very, very thrilled to see them increase in cod,” said Williams. “That’s going to be a help. But to that point, we have a long way to go.”

Williams says the previous cuts are far greater than the upcoming increase.

“On May 2 of 2017, my boat was out of cod fish,” said Williams who then had to avoid cod for the rest of the year because he reached the limit on the first day of the fishing season.

cod fisherman tom williams sr 2 Cod fisherman may see a big bump in their catches
(Photo: Tina Detelj/WTNH)

He says while cod limits will increase, catch limits for Yellowtail Flounder in Southern New England will be cut by 77 percent.

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“One bump isn’t a panacea. We have to keep keep stressing the fact we’re seeing a lot more fish than the government is,” said Williams.

Still, he says this is a step in the right direction.

“The idea that they are starting to listen to us is more beneficial than this 156 percent increase,” said Williams.

He says consumers can help local fishermen. The way to do that is the next time they’re in a restaurant, ask where the fish is from. He says an increase in demand for locally caught fish will benefit local fishermen.

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