Boston Globe: “How does the government count the fish?”


A recent Boston Globe article highlighted many of the issues swirling around the pitfalls of recent stock assessments and the enormous ramifications they have had for our local fishing industry.

“There are a lot of fish in the sea. How to count them? It is, surprisingly, one of the hottest questions in New England public life these days.

Massachusetts Governor-elect Charlie Baker, concerned about sharp restrictions on cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine, has openly questioned whether the federal government is accurately tallying the iconic species.

And aggrieved fishermen, an iconic species of their own, have argued that the abundant catch in their nets this year belies the government’s warnings of a species on the brink of collapse.

Scientists and environmentalists have offered broad rebuttals to Baker and the fishermen in the news media, often blaming the problem on decades of overfishing. But there has been little detailed discussion of how the federal government actually counts fish and how reliable its numbers are.”

The article goes on to discuss the many steps involved in collecting and analyzing data for an annual stock assessment.  Anyone interested in learning more about this complex yet imperfect process should give the article a read.

Also highlighted are the opinions of local Gloucester fisherman Al Cottone, who notes that the vessel charged with fishing our waters for assessment purposes randomly selects its fishing locations, unlike fishermen who understand where fish congregate and how they move in patterns across the seabed.  UMass Dartmouth Professor Steven Cadrin adds that more data is needed, particularly the data collected by the fishermen who have been fishing these grounds for decades.

All sides of the argument are highlighted in this recent article, and as always, we urge our guests to read-up on the hot button issues so we can all invest collaboratively in the future health of our fishery.

You can read the whole article and browse accompanying photos by clicking here.