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Georges Bank


Just off the coast of New England lies Georges Bank, a shallow, sediment-covered plateau bigger than Massachusetts. Georges Bank has played a key role in New England’s rich cultural heritage and was once one of the world’s most productive fishing grounds. Georges Bank supported a lucrative fishery for Atlantic cod and halibut for over 400 years, but as bottom trawling technology improved, fishermen became very efficient—sometimes catching as many cod in an hour as older boats could catch in a season. Bottom-trawling also damages critical deep-sea coral and sponge habitats. Many once-bountiful Georges Bank fisheries have yet to recover from large-scale overfishing, but federal fisheries regulations aim to ensure recovery and future sustainability. Now partially protected from fishing, Oceanographer Canyon is carved 6,600 feet deep into the Bank’s southern edge. Too steep to trawl, the canyon’s rocky outcroppings provide places where deep-sea corals and sponges can attach, creating habitat for many other species of invertebrates and fish.



Cultural Importance
Destructive Fishing
Economic Importance


Georges Bank on Wikipedia
Brief History of the Goundfishing Industry of New  England
How Gear and Greed Emptied Georges Bank
The Tragedy of the Commons on Georges Bank
Managers and Fishermen Collide in Search of Answers, Solutions
Ludwig’s Ratchet and the Collapse of New England Groundfish Stocks – [PDF]
Restoring Fisheries: A New England Perspective – [PDF]


A large halibut.

Cod in a net. Photo: NOAA


Deep sea corals on Georges Bank, in Oceanographer Canyon. Photo: NOAA