Northeast
File photo/The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says quota for the dogfish will be cut by nearly 50 percent this year, to about 20.5 million pounds.

NOAA to cut dogfish quota in half

BOSTON — Federal fishing regulators say they're reducing the quota for a small species of shark that is fished commercially off the East Coast.

Fishermen catch spiny dogfish off the eastern states, from Maine to North Carolina. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says quota for the dogfish will be cut by nearly 50 percent this year. That will leave the commercial quota at about 20.5 million pounds.

The agency says the quota will climb back up in 2020 and 2021 because the dogfish population is expected to grow. That would bring with it a reduced risk of overfishing the species, which is harvested for use as food.

Dogfish are primarily consumed in Europe. Members of the seafood industry have tried marketing dogfish to U.S. consumers, but it remains an uncommon menu item.

Last year, the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance received a Saltonstall-Kennedy grant of about $37,000 from NOAA for a marketing and promotion project centered on raising the profile of dogfish — including changing the name of the species — to make it more attractive to consumers.

Dogfish landings are closely tied to the stock’s migration, with peaks occurring from May through October when they reside along the southern end of Georges Bank, the Gulf of Maine and the waters off Massachusetts.

The diminutive sharks, which occupy a habitat that stretches from Canada to Florida, are considered one of the under-utilized species that fishing advocates believe might help fill the consumer void created by the demise or scarcity of traditional species such as cod and haddock.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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