Scientists, regulators, and industry members are working together to develop strategies for efficiently harvesting Acadian redfish stocks without causing bycatch. The project, known as REDNET, aims to create a sustainable trawl fishery for redfish in the Gulf of Maine. The goals of the project include redirecting fishing efforts to rebuilt stocks, implementing adaptive management for optimum yield, and increasing the economic viability of groundfish sectors by providing access to the Annual Catch Limits of the recovered species.
The US Acadian redfish fishery is managed by NOAA Fisheries and the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP, established in 1986 and amended over time, covers multiple groundfish stocks and species in New England. Measures to protect groundfish stocks include permitting requirements, time and area closures, catch limits, bycatch reduction regulations, and minimum size catch limits.
The catch share program allows fishers to participate in a sector-based system, providing flexibility in fishing practices while controlling the catch. Fishers who do not participate in the catch share program must adhere to regulations limiting fishing days, catch amounts, and area closures. The management efforts have been successful, and Acadian redfish stocks have been rebuilt since being classified as overfished. However, low consumer demand and other economic factors have led to the underutilization of the species. Special programs using smaller mesh are being implemented to increase quota utilization and incentivize the targeting of redfish.
In Canada, Acadian redfish are managed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).