North Atlantic Inc.'s primary resource is the cold blue waters of the Gulf of Maine. Fed by nutrients flowing in from Maine's wild rivers as well as the strong circulating tides of the Bay of Fundy, the Gulf of Maine is bounded to the west by the coastline of northern New England, to the east by Nova Scotia, and to the south by the shoal waters of Georges and Browns Banks.
In addition to being a key summer feeding ground for many Atlantic pelagic species (Bluefin Tuna, Swordfish, Blue Shark, etc.), the Gulf of Maine supports its own stocks of groundfish, such as cod, flounder, hake, and halibut.
Since the early 1940's, the Gulf of Maine had supported one the largest fisheries in the world. However, by the early 1990's, landings from the Gulf of Maine had decreased precipitously as fish stocks were pressured by shoreline development, habitat degradation, and intensive commercial harvesting.
To protect the resource, fishery managers aggressively tightened regulations on fishing areas, fishing equipment, and the amount of time boats could spend fishing. As a result of these restrictions, many fishermen were forced out of the business and communities along the entire coast lost much of their traditional economic livelihood.
As a result of the tightened regulations and reduced fishing effort, recent scientific analysis has shown that the biomass of Haddock in the Gulf of Maine is exceptionally healthy and the stock is now considered completely rebuilt. In view of this recovery, the GoM Haddock fishing targets have increased by 28% over 2007 landings. Additionally, new fisheries management techniques are being implemented which will allow fishermen to harvest Haddock and other healthy fish stocks while minimizing the fisheries impact on efforts to ensure the recovery of other species. As a result of these new measures, Haddock landings are projected to increase dramatically.
Many New England fishing communities are currently struggling to survive. The news about the fisheries has been negative for so long that getting the truth out about the resurgence of the healthy parts of the resource is an uphill battle. A major supporter of the New England fishing community is an objective research entity called The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI).
Located adjacent to the Portland Fish Pier, GMRI is dedicated to protecting the Gulf of Maine as both a healthy ocean ecosystem and also as an economic resource for a vibrant marine community. As part of their community outreach, GMRI has launched a Sustainable Seafood Initiative . The goal of the initiative is to catalyze and support the evolution of economically and ecologically sustainable fisheries in the Gulf of Maine through the creation of market incentives. Planned efforts include branding seafood traceable to the Gulf of Maine region, promoting the resource in the media, and consulting with key retailers in major markets on responsible sourcing.
In addition, the Sustainable Seafood Initiative is working to build support for a Gulf of Maine Haddock Fishery Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.
North Atlantic Inc. recognizes that the best incentive for fishermen to harvest sustainably is to have a ready market for their product. As a member of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative's Industry Working Group, North Atlantic Inc. is working directly with GMRI to develop ways to support and market sustainable species from the Gulf of Maine.
In addition to being a major part of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative, North Atlantic Inc.'s president and founder, Jerry Knecht, is a long-standing advisor to GMRI as a Navigator. As a key supplier to several retailers currently exploring sustainability efforts and/or pilot programs, North Atlantic Inc. recognizes our ability to directly expand the market for sustainable species from the Gulf of Maine.