After years of what seemed an encouraging recovery for the once-storied New England cod fishery, federal regulators recently announced that an important stock is failing.
A 2008 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study of the Gulf of Maine cod stock revealed a fishery rebounding after decades of overfishing, and on pace to be rebuilt by a 2014 deadline set by federal regulators. But just three years later NOAA now says that the fishery is near collapse and may require a fishery-wide shutdown to recover.
Dukes County Fishermen’s Association president Warren Doty is suspicious of the new federal data.
“It’s shocking,” he said. “We all thought that we were headed on the right path and then this comes out. I think the industry really needs to analyze whether the science is really correct. Everyone’s first reaction is this can’t be true. Everyone thought we were going in the right direction and then suddenly it’s like it’s a disaster.”
While cod fishing on Martha’s Vineyard has been a historically vital industry the recent plight of the fish has forced Island fishermen to look elsewhere.
“Cod fishing has really been out of the picture here for at least 10 years,” said Mr. Doty. “It could come back but it hasn’t yet.”