April 11, 2017 — RE “DWINDLING cod population no fluke in Mass.” (Editorial, April 5): Small family-owned fishing businesses operating in New England rely upon sound science. In recent years, reports for stocks like Gulf of Maine cod have gone from being overly optimistic to overly pessimistic, seemingly overnight. This flip-flop has justifiably created doubt and suspicion among those who participate in the fishery.
Further contributing to this skepticism has been the remarkable abundance of codfish observed by both commercial and recreational fishermen on the water over the past three years, as environmental conditions and oceanographic cycles have shifted. Today, fishermen spend more time avoiding these fish than catching them.
The Gulf of Maine cod stock, assessed to be reportedly near collapse, is instead becoming more and more difficult to avoid across a wide region. This is the case for many fish stocks in New England, not just cod. Many in the fishery today are left with questions about the limitations of the data sets, models, and processes that are used to assess stocks today.