Here in New England waters, bycatch became illegal on May 1, under the catch share regime ordered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If industry analysis proves correct, that change in the rules threatens to put some fishermen out of business.
The rules require the landing of all legal-size fish caught in federal waters, including those landed by accident.
The Catch 22 of the catch share system is that the fish landed by accident count against the fisherman's quota and can shut him down. For example, a fisherman with a quota of 100,000 pounds of cod and 1,000 pounds of pollock must stop fishing after reaching his 1,000-pound limit on pollock — even if he is 90,000 pounds short of his 100,000-pound cod quota.