U.S. authorities have halted cod fishing in a large area of the Gulf of Maine after determining there has been a near complete collapse of stocks.

Rolling closures in the coming months will hit the fishery in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

John Bullard is the northeast regional administrator for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and responsible for the fishery in New England.

He said scientists did an unscheduled assessment of cod stocks in the Gulf and Maine this summer.

"They found that the stock was continuing to plummet," he said.

“Cod is in big trouble.”

Bullard said cod fishing had already been cut by 75 per cent, but the numbers show stocks are sitting at just three to four per cent of their historic level.

Off New Hampshire and Massachusetts,any gear that can catch cod is banned. Elsewhere in the gulf, cod is limited to a bycatch for those looking for other groundfish.

The Maine Coast Fishermen's Association is meeting on Thursday to discuss the situation.

In the meantime, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will soon decide what to do with the cod fishery on the Georges Bank — which is part of the Gulf of Maine — and in other areas.

"Now it's a matter of making those decisions in time for the beginning of the next year," said Stefan Leslie, the regional director of fisheries management for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

There is still a cod quota in southwest New Brunswick, but Fisheries and Oceans Canada records show no one bothered to fish it in the last year.