January 9, 2013 — With the help of The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, fishermen and scientists have started tagging cod, inserting $300 trackers into about 130 fish thus far to better understand and protect their spawning
“It’s like E-ZPass,” explained Chris McGuire, a marine program director with the Conservancy, in a phone interview. “…The tags that are inserted in fish are like the things you have on your windshield. We put 38 receivers under water. Any time a tagged fish swims in range of a receiver, it records that information.”
The goal is to more accurately locate spawning cod habitats to institute small-scale fishing closures. The closures would protect the spawning cod – the bread and butter for local fishermen – while still allowing the overall industry to continue.
Several Scituate fishermen have helped spearhead the program. Though unusual for fishermen to request increased fishing restrictions, McGuire said that’s the end goal.
“You get to a tipping point,” McGuire said. “People recognize they need to be protected from themselves. You have these guys who have been fishing out of Scituate for decades have seen the population go up and down, but recently they are concerned that they and other fishermen are fishing too hard at this time of year when the cod are all gathered together for reproducing. If that’s interrupted, there is no future of cod fishing on the South Shore coast. It’s a short-term cost for a long-term gain.”