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Old 11-21-2011, 04:33 PM
Soundbounder Soundbounder is offline
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Scientists Surprise Fishermen with Talk of Cod Collapse

In 2008, a NOAA assessment of the cod fishery in the Gulf of Maine gave groundfishermen cause for hope. The cod stocks, which had been heavily overfished in the 80s and 90s, were showing strong signs of recovery. Cod numbers were stronger than they had been in three decades, according to the assessment, and recovery seemed reachable by 2014. The report caused many Maine fishermen to believe they could count on cod in the coming years, said Ben Martens, policy director of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Association.

“People build business plans around that,” Martens said.

But a lot may have changed in the last three years. In a recent NOAA cod stock assessment working group meeting, scientists revealed data showing the fishery has collapsed. If the assessment is accurate, there is no chance cod numbers will recover to meet the 2014 recovery target, even if the fishery is closed completely. While this assessment is only a preliminary interpretation of the data, it is enough to cause groundfishermen to hold their collective breaths and brace for the worst.
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:47 AM
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Good article in yesterday's NYT:

Some fishermen say they are seeing more cod in the Gulf of Maine than they have in years. Many in Gloucester have already reached their quota for the fishing year that started in May and are looking to buy the rights to catch more from others who have not yet reached their federal limit. Recreational fishermen, who land more than 30 percent of the total Gulf of Maine cod catch, are reporting similar observations.

“I’m telling you, it’s out there,” said Russell Sherman, who started fishing for cod in 1971 and has just about reached his annual allocation of 25,000 pounds. “We’ve had no problems locating codfish.”

But scientists take more into account than what fishermen see.

“Fishermen will almost always tell you that, and it’s not that they’re lying,” said Mark Kurlansky, whose 1997 book, “Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World,” documented how Canada’s once-abundant Atlantic cod were fished almost to extinction. “Landing a lot of fish can mean the fish are very plentiful, or it can mean the fishermen are extremely efficient in scooping up every last one of them.”
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:46 PM
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Wow! If that assessment proves to be accurate, the status of GOM Cod is right back where it was in 1998.


This and other original paintings and fine art prints of fishing and marine subjects may be seen on my website
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Old 01-02-2012, 06:20 AM
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No easy answers for New England's cod crisis

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Old 01-21-2012, 07:41 AM
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Cod Assessment Defended by Pew Trust

Many in New England were recently stunned by the news that the region’s prized codfish are in much deeper trouble than anyone had realized. The bleak conclusion of the most recent scientific assessment was unexpected, because just three years earlier cod appeared to show signs of recovery. Fishermen, scientists, and others have rightfully been asking, “What happened?”
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Old 01-28-2012, 05:31 AM
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On cod, NOAA cannot see the forest for the trees

At the recent Scientific and Statistical Committee meeting to review Gulf of Maine cod, the Committee voted not to ratify the assessment, a significant legal step that leaves open more Council options for its meeting next week. Further, both environmental groups and the recreational fishing alliance feel the survey is flawed.

The defenders of the study argue it is based on 'better science'. But the more they talk, the more some of the science looks like guess work.

For example, one of the arguments against the 2008 assessment was that it included large tows in 2003 and 2005 that should be discounted.

But you can't have it both ways: if you base much of your assessment on a random survey, you can't throw out the results you don't like. Increasingly treatment of survey data seems too dependent on the outcome of one or two tows.
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