Haddock Populations Subject of International Symposium
By Rebecca Zeiber, NH Sea Grant
October 10, 2007
Gone are the days in which fish populations were thought to be limitless,
but that doesn’t mean hope for healthy stocks for the future has
Overfishing has been a common problem for New England fish populations,
particularly for groundfish species such as cod, haddock and flounder.
However, since the new millennium, New England has experienced a rebound
in the populations of haddock, with total landings valued at more than
$100 million since 2001.
“Haddock have shown very good signs of population recovery over
the past five years,” explains Pingguo He, UNH research associate
professor in the Ocean Process Analysis Lab and NH Sea Grant extension
specialist. “We think of them as an economically important species
so we want to learn how they can be sustainably utilized without harming
populations of haddock and other species.”
Researchers and fishermen from both sides of the Atlantic want to ensure
that rebounding haddock populations are here to stay. Strict fishing regulations
have helped the comeback of the species, but now efforts are being made
to allow fishermen to capitalize on the economic opportunities as well.
A two-day symposium titled “Haddock 2007: An International Symposium
on Haddock Conservation, Harvesting and Management” will take place
at the Portsmouth Sheraton Harborside on Oct. 25-26.
This symposium, hosted by UNH, was organized by a team of researchers
from New England and Canada. It will allow researchers from the U.S. to
learn from other countries that are ahead in terms of fisheries management
issues, explains Ken La Valley, NH Sea Grant extension specialist. Scientists
from countries including Canada, Norway and Scotland are expected to attend.
Symposium attendees will be able to learn about haddock-related topics
from the two keynote speakers, Clem Wardle and Bob O’Boyle. Wardle
is a world-renowned scientist from Scotland who helped pioneer the idea
of using fish behavior to help design more selective gear. O’Boyle,
associate director of Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s
Maritime Branch in Nova Scotia, specializes in marine fisheries stock assessment
and will be speaking about haddock in both contemporary and historical
“This symposium will also allow us to discuss what we know about
haddock, including their life history and movement patterns,” La
Valley says. “We want to be forward-thinking and protect haddock
populations. We don’t want to make the same mistakes as before and
overfish the species.”
Because haddock occupy the same habitat as other overfished species, including
cod and flounder, regional scientists have been designing different fishing
gear to separate haddock from these other species to decrease bycatch.
Field trials of new fishing gear aimed at targeting haddock can be affected
by many factors in nature that aren’t easily accounted for, He explains.
What works in the northeast U.S. must be proven to also work in other countries
before the gear can be approved for commercial use. Bringing researchers
and fishermen together in this symposium will also allow them to discuss,
evaluate and compare the new gear designs to see what works and what needs
Regardless of what country each researcher is from, the goal is the same — to
balance healthy haddock populations with suitable harvesting limits.
“We want to learn from the past by using research that’s been
conducted in recent years,” La Valley adds.
Sponsors for this symposium include NH Sea Grant, Rhode Island Sea Grant,
Northeast Consortium, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Massachusetts Division
of Marine Fisheries and NOAA/NMFS Northeast Cooperative Research Partners
New England fishermen are also encouraged to attend the symposium and
there are a limited number of registration fee waivers and stipends for
For more information regarding the 2007 International Haddock Symposium,
please contact Laurinda Sousa Smith at 2-0136 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.seagrant.unh.edu/haddock.html.