PLYMOUTH – Half-submerged in the ocean east of Scituate, the canary-yellow glider with swept-back wings looked like little more than someone’s errant model plane. But appearances can be deceiving, especially in this electronic age where more and more sophisticated technology is being loaded into ever smaller and sleeker packages.


From his perch over the deck, Bob Wallace, captain of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary research vessel Auk, swung the stern around so crew member Dave Slocum and Eric Matzen of the National Marine Fisheries Service could grapple the sophisticated torpedo that researchers hoped would provide valuable clues to the future of cod, the most iconic fish in New England.


In the Gulf of Maine, as many as 80 percent of legal-size cod die each year from fishing and natural causes and the size of the spawning stock is considered to be just 3 percent of what constitutes a healthy population. NMFS is considering reducing the annual catch to a level so low that it could shut down all fishing.


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