Fishermen question cod-fishing ban data

On the heels of Monday’s abrupt emergency shutdown of cod fishing in inshore waters off Massachusetts and New Hampshire until May 1, the New England Fishery Management Council is now weighing another round of steep cuts in the allowed catch of Gulf of Maine groundfish for the rest of the year after that.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service imposed the sudden shutdown of vast areas of the gulf after data showed cod stocks in their worst shape in at least 40 years.

But Thursday, many fishermen were trying to persuade the local council: The government data are not true.

“I am certain that the science is wrong by a lot on this one,” said Vito Giacalone, a Gloucester, Massachusetts, fisherman and leader of the Northeast Seafood Coalition and Gloucester Fishing Community Preservation Fund. “They’re finding them in a lot of areas. They’re not just catching them in one concentrated area as they thought. Big catches, like 3,000, 4,000 pounds, one-hour tows, little 40-foot boats. Flounder, cod, as good catch rates as we’ve ever seen.”

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