"We're on the knife's edge of this over-fished status," North Pacific Fisheries Management Council member Nicole Kimball said during talks in Anchorage Friday afternoon.
Warming ocean temperatures are wreaking havoc on a number of Alaska's fisheries, worrying biologists, locals and fishermen with low returns that jeopardize fishing livelihoods.
A stock assessment this fall put Gulf cod populations at a historic low, with "next to no" new eggs, according to NOAA research biologist Steve Barbeaux, who authored the report.
At their current numbers, cod are below the federal threshold that protects them as a food source for endangered Steller sea lions. Once below that line, the total allowable catch goes to zero — in other words, the fishery shuts down.