Managers and Fishermen Collide in Search for Answers, Solutions
Mark Alan Lovewell

The question of how cod stocks fell so low in the waters off New England is almost as perplexing as the question of how to bring about recovery.

The favorite reason - too much fishing pressure - is followed by other explanations, including changes in ocean temperature and degradation of the environment. Perhaps it is a combination of these things.

Pinpointing the cause or causes of plummeting cod stocks is key to their rejuvenation.

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The Story of the Codfish Is Written Across 400 Years of Island History
Mark Alan Lovewell

The old wooden sailboat up on blocks inside the shed at the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society in Edgartown doesn't look like much.

The white lapstrake boat, less than 20 feet in length, has not been in the water since it was brought to the society in December 1936 from Menemsha Creek. The paint has come off in many places. There is little chance she will ever float again.

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A Lifetime Devoted to Oceangoing Science
Mark Alan Lovewell

Linda Despres, the chief scientist aboard the Albatross IV, has a haunting memory of visiting Georges Bank as a 23-year-old scientist.

"I have this picture in my mind of Georges Bank at night and seeing the lights of over 50 ships going back and forth across the horizon," she says.

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Scientists Study Groundfish Net by Net, Sifting the Sea in Pursuit of Knowledge
Mark Alan Lovewell

On an open sea deck, with the rolling waves of Georges Bank a mere eight feet away, Jon Brodziak cuts, and with tweezers takes a bone from each of the two inner ears of a haddock.

He places them in a small envelope for future study.

Then he does it again with another haddock. And again.

The bone is the otolith, which is used to tell the age of the fish; it is a far better measure than length.

Mr. Brodziak, along with several other scientists, is in the middle of a six-hour shift on the Albatross IV, in the pitch black night on the open ocean.

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A Bank Shaped by Geology and Politics
Mark Alan Lovewell

Georges Bank is a huge underwater island - 20,000 square miles and as large as the state of Massachusetts - that lies just below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

The bank is part of the continental shelf. More than 10,000 years ago, geologists believe, the bank was a high and dry island.

As the ocean rose, the island was submerged. Fish love the bank because it is a great source for food. Water depths are not much more than 100 feet and sometimes as shallow as 20 feet. Light from the sun penetrates to the bottom and supports a world of microscopic plankton that fish eat.

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On Board Ship in Ocean Storm: Shoals Brew Powerful Weather
Mark Alan Lovewell

Pots and pans rattle. The television slides back and forth. Each time the bow of the Albatross IV slides up over the crest of a wave, something inside the 187-foot vessel bangs or rolls.

Twenty seconds later, when the bow descends into the valley of the next wave, the pots and pans bang back and forth again.

On this day, Sunday, April 3, the ship is on Georges Bank, more than 100 miles east of Cape Cod, so far from land it is not worth seeking shelter. The ship rides the waves at Cultivator Shoal, once a prime fishing area.

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Cod in State of Collapse; Haddock Sees Recovery at Fabled Ocean Ground
Mark Alan Lovewell
Capt. Gregory Mayhew, a Vineyard native and lifelong resident of Chilmark, runs the 75-foot steel dragger Unicorn out of Menemsha. This summer, for the first time in more than 20 years, he went sea scalloping. The reason, he said, is economics.
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Herring Runs Closed in Commonwealth to Protect Fishery
Mark Alan Lovewell

Concerned about a precipitous decline in herring, the state has banned their harvest in Massachusetts for the next three years.

Also known as alewives, herring is the most valued bait fish in Vineyard waters.

The closure, which affects at least 100 herring runs along the Massachusetts coast, ironically comes at a time when Vineyard towns are taking steps to revive and improve their runs.

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Fishermen, Regulators Brace for Spring Herring Moratorium
Mark Alan Lovewell

Fishermen, Regulators Brace for Spring Herring Moratorium

By MARK ALAN LOVEWELL

Alewives, one of the great harbingers of spring, have returned to Vineyard waters.

But there is a crucial difference this year: the state of Massachusetts has barred people from catching or possessing these anadramous fish, which return from the ocean to spawn in freshwater ponds.

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Owner of Quitsa Strider in Menemsha Sells His Fishing Rights, Ending an Era
Mark Alan Lovewell

One of Menemsha’s most respected fishermen, Jonathan Mayhew, has quit fishing the high seas.

Mr. Mayhew recently sold his federal permits, giving up his license to ply the offshore waters of Georges Bank for cod, flounder and other fish.

A Vineyard native who grew up in a family of generations of fishermen, Mr. Mayhew, 56, said a chapter has closed in his life. He said he worries now for the future of young local fishermen facing current fishing rules.

The changes that have come down are killing the fisherman and not necessarily saving fish, he said.

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