Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fleet Fish

Photo: Mike Estabrook by way of New Bedford Guide.
At first it was the beautiful image above that drew my attention to an article posted yesterday on the blog New Bedford Guide. I have spent quite a few hours in this harbor since taking up the whaleboat hobby two years ago, and I just never get tired of looking at the ships of the working waterfront.

Then I noticed that the beautiful photo is at the top of an article with an ambitious but promising title: New Bedford Releases Six-Pronged Plan to Revive Groundfishery and Modernize Port. Ambitious, indeed, but also promising, as it turns out, and geographic.

The promising part is that researchers, political leaders concerned about the regional economy, and fishing professionals themselves are all working together. At the center of the article are some technological innovations in fisheries research, but at the center of those is involvement of the people who actually catch fish. Any serious work on sustainability -- economic/social/ecological -- requires deep involvement of the closest stakeholders, a lesson that is lost on far too many architects and managers.

The geographic part is that the strategies address the problem of sample size in the fish surveys on which catch limits are based. Researchers and regulators agreed with fishermen who complained that the surveys were based on very limited transects, but technical limitations made it difficult to sample larger areas. Better cameras combined with pass-through nets designed in cooperation with the fishing experts allowed for a transect that would count fish along a 175-km transect.

The article provides much more detail of how this fits into the plans for regional development, and includes a number of additional resources such as this excerpt from that transect. Perhaps this comprehensive approach will keep these beautiful boats afloat for another century in America's most valuable harbor.

SMAST's New Survey Method from Stove Boat on Vimeo.

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