Science crisis in New England fisheries
Posted by Andrew Pershing | Maine, United States
The waters off of New England have sustained valuable fisheries for hundreds of years. While fisheries for lobster and scallops are booming, the fisheries for groundfish such as cod and flounder are in a crisis. A major factor in this crisis is the high level of uncertainty surrounding the status of many of the stocks. Scientific surveys suggest low abundance of several species, yet fishermen still report finding large numbers of cod. This exacerbates tensions that normally exist in fisheries management between fishermen and regulators. Furthermore, the stock assessment models that are the cornerstone of US management are increasingly suspect, and for many stocks, managers have resorted to ad hoc methods that have not been tested. Is there an explanation for the disconnect between fishermen and scientists? Are the rapidly warming waters causing poor model performance or has the switch to quota management incentivized discarding fish? There is a need to get to the bottom of this crisis.