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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Cape Cod is named after the prolific fish of the same name that at one point in time engulfed the Ocean waters of New England..............What was once an unlimited resource, the Cod population crashed to unsustainable levels in the 1990's............... Because of greed and unsustainable harvest, the fishing industry could see its total allowable catch for certain cod stocks in New England drop 80% from the current level..............Stupidly(as this blogger sees it), another fishing proposal under consideration for the Cape is to open previously protected areas off the New England coast for more fishing.............Conflicting messages and efforts at play in this region...............Reduce fishing in certain waters while allowing fishing in other sections of the same New England Waters....................Most conservationists feel that more protection, not less is needed for the entire region.........It has taken years of fishing restraint for nature to rebuild stocks and repair habitats............ Such gains, while slowly won, could be wiped out in less than a season's fishing and return the region to the destitution of the early 1990s.................. Such a rash move would also establish a bad model for fishery managers around the country.......Will political and economic pressures win out over sound science?

Cod Shortage Roils Northeast
Ecological, Economic Interests at Odds as Tight Quota Threatens Fishing Industry

Jennifer Levitz ;Wall Street Journal
BOSTON—Commercial fishermen in New England are anxiously awaiting a regulatory vote on Wednesday that could significantly reduce the amount of cod they are allowed to catch, a move designed to preserve and rebuild the stock of the once abundant fish.

Steven James, who heads a charter-boat group in Marshfield, Mass., says allowing commercial fishers in restricted waters would hurt conservation.

Meanwhile, a separate proposal—aimed at lessening the economic blow of any cuts by opening nearly 5,000 square miles of protected Atlantic Ocean to eligible commercial fishermen—is drawing fire from conservationists and others as potentially undermining the aim of increasing the cod population.

Under the primary proposal by the New England Fishery Management Council, a regional policy-making arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the fishing industry could see its total allowable catch for certain cod stocks drop 80% from the current level. At the same time, the other proposal to open the areas off the New England coast would give fishermen more places to catch more-plentiful stocks of fish, such as haddock, supporters of the proposal say.

"Restrictions have to strike a balance between the fish and fisherman, and the balance is out of whack," said David Goethel, a New Hampshire commercial fisherman and a voting member of the fishery-management council, which also includes state officials, scientists and other industry representatives.

But conservationists, recreational charter-boat operators and some small-boat fishermen say that allowing commercial trawlers into the protected areas will harm the spawning cod that live there and that swim alongside more-abundant stocks. They call the proposal a short-term strategy that ultimately will set back the recovery of cod.

"These are some of biggest protected areas on whole East Coast, and a lot of it hasn't been fished for more than 15 years; to me, it just seems like a really irresponsible reaction by the fishery management," said Peter Baker, director of the Northeast Fisheries Program for the Pew Environment Group, which is pushing the federal government to do a full environmental review, which would take months.
The protected areas that could now be opened were closed in phases starting in the mid 1990s to protect juvenile and spawning ground-fish, including cod. NOAA, which must approve all council votes, has expressed support for controlled access to the closed areas by commercial fishermen but hasn't made a final decision. 

The quota would take effect for the 2013 fishing season that begins May 1. Opponents to the opening include charter fishermen, who have been allowed to fish in the protected areas because they use baited lines rather than commercial nets. "It's been the breadbasket for the charter industry for the last two decades," said Steven James, who heads a charter-boat association in Marshfield, Mass. "Now, if they open it, a handful of big steel trawlers are going to move in and get just as many fish as they can possibly pull out of there."

The battle over how to save the cod has become increasingly tense. For more than two decades, the cod population has hovered at dramatically low levels and authorities so far haven't been able to engineer a rebound. And the fish's outlook weighs heavily on the region's economy: Commercial fisherman caught 17.6 million pounds of Atlantic cod in 2011, earning on average around $1.85 a pound.

"This is the most critical time that I'm aware of ever in New England fishery management—the industry is under a lot of stress," said Rip Cunningham, chairman of the New England Fishery Management Council.

Decades of overfishing were blamed for the near economic collapse of the cod population in the mid-1990s. Assessments then showed that most of the cod were essentially middle-aged—and that there may not have been enough young cod to sustain the stock.

In 2004, NOAA set a 2014 deadline to rebuild Atlantic cod stocks to a level where there are enough spawning fish in the water to reproduce and replace what fishermen take. Fishery officials have imposed regulations on when, where and how people can fish. Strict annual catch limits, or quotas, were instituted in 2007, and fishermen thought they were on pace to meet the target.

But scientists say better technology is allowing them a more accurate, and grim, picture. Recent federal assessments showed that there are only about 32,000 metric tons of spawning stock biomass—the total weight of fish that are old enough to reproduce—off the coast from southern New England north and east to Canada—less than 20% toward the federal rebuilding goal.

"The bottom line is that we need more fish, and we can't get out of this bind until we have more fish," said NOAA spokeswoman Teri Frady. She said that NOAA is studying whether—in addition to fishing—changing water temperatures are constraining recovery of cod.

Keep the Fishing Ban in New England

THE fate of New England's fishing industry could be determined soon as federal regulators decide whether to open up thousands of square miles of ocean that were closed to commercial fishing so cod, haddock and other species could recover from decades of over-exploitation. The government should hold firm and keep those areas closed.
Twenty years ago, New England's fishing industry — whose annual catch is now second in value behind only Alaska's — was on its knees. A region that had once supported some of the most productive fisheries in the world had succumbed to the might of a modern fleet bristling with new technology.
Cape Cod was named in the 17th century for the near-miraculous shoals of enormous cod that seethed around it. Generations of sailors marveled at cod so plentiful they could catch fish as fast as they could bait and haul in lines yet never seem to dent the teeming numbers.

The early 20th century saw hook and line give way to draggers that cut ever larger swaths across the seabed as they scooped fish into their nets. The passing years sharpened this lethal edge. Boats grew bigger and engines more powerful, dragging larger and stronger nets. Although fish numbers began to decline, the boats still found plenty to catch by using echo finders, later enhanced by computers and satellite positioning. That is, until there were so few fish left that even with the best technology, it became nearly impossible for fishermen to make a decent living.
Where were the regulators through all of this? Always one step behind and perennially ineffective. Federal law delegated to the New England Fishery Management Council authority to manage the fishery from 3 miles to 200 miles off the coast, but the council didn't see its job as speaking up for fish. This body was dominated by fishing interests, so when faced with a choice of fishing now or cutting back the catch to assure the fishery's future, the council's decisions often favored the short term. With such decisions, collapse of the fishery was inevitable. When it happened in the late 1980s, it was brutal and swift. By the early 1990s, all agreed that something had to be done. The council reinvented its approach to fishery management.
Nobody should underestimate the challenges the council had to overcome when it began working with scientists to form a management plan to rebuild stocks of fish like cod, haddock, flounder and halibut and to recover the prosperity and pride of New England's fishing communities. The cost of recovery was bitter medicine, involving reducing fishing by half. In a first for United States waters, regulators closed an approximately 8,000-square-mile network of areas to draggers and scallop dredgers in the mid-1990s. It paid off.
Scallop stocks were the first to rebound, soaring as the animals matured and multiplied in the millions across the closed areas, sending their offspring on ocean currents into surrounding fishing grounds. Today, scallops help New Bedford, Mass., bring in more revenue than any fishing port in the nation. Cod have stubbornly resisted recovery, for reasons not well understood, but other fish, like haddock, flourished as the habitats within closed areas recovered from a century of damage by trawl and dredge. As was the case with scallops, these larger, healthier populations helped to replenish the fishery.

But the seas are subject to upswings and downturns, the result of shifting environmental conditions. After more than 15 years of protection, New England today faces a decline in the fortunes of its fish stocks and fisheries. When times are tough and recession bites, it can be hard to resist the temptation to cash in your reserves.
This is exactly what many in the commercial fishing industry are calling for in New England, demanding that closed areas be reopened. Sadly, the fishery council voted Dec. 20 to recommend ending protection for more than half of the area originally closed, a total of about 5,000 square miles. Now officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration must decide whether or not to allow such a shortsighted measure to take effect.
The pressure to do so will be intense. Yesterday, the fishery council voted to recommend that NOAA substantially reduce quotas for Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank cod to allow the stocks to recover. Fisherman say these reductions will destroy their industry. But opening up the protected zones would be disastrous. They have been the linchpin of fishery recovery. It has taken years of fishing restraint for nature to rebuild stocks and repair habitats. Such gains, while slowly won, could be wiped out in less than a season's fishing and return the region to the destitution of the early 1990s. Such a rash move would also establish a bad model for fishery managers around the country.
The present downswing represents a tough test for New Englanders' resolve. They must resist the temptation to squander their resources in a splurge that would empty the sea and impoverish the industry once again.
Callum Roberts, a marine conservation biologist at the University of York, is the author of "The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea."

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