April 14, 2017 — The Baker administration cabinet secretary in charge of the industry-based survey of Gulf of Maine cod agrees with commercial fishing interests that conclusions drawn from the initial findings of the multi-year study are premature.
Matthew A. Beaton, secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, penned a letter to commercial groundfish sectors in which he addressed the most recent incident to fan the flames of discontent among fishermen regarding the validity of the science used to measure the Gulf of Maine cod biomass.
“While it is too early too have enough data to make definitive conclusions about the status of Gulf of Maine cod, the administration anticipates the IBS data will be a helpful resource for both the fishing and research communities,” Beaton wrote.
The state Division of Marine Fisheries, which is conducting the industry-based survey (IBS) funded by fishery disaster aid monies, recently completed the first year of its random-area survey and is set to embark on the second year sometime this month.
But on April 3, a Boston Globe story proclaimed the initial results — which fall in line with the dire assessments by NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center of the cod stock’s imperiled state — “a milestone in the war over the true state of cod” in the Gulf of Maine.
The story said the DMF scientists had “reached the same dismal conclusion that their federal counterparts did: The region’s cod are at a historic low — about 80 percent less than the population from just a decade ago.”