The science, expert experience and anecdotes shared Wednesday at a forum on groundfishing in the Northeast were quite convincing that the fisheries could be better managed.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is ultimately responsible for running the Magnuson-Stevens Act, could improve its results with more support from Congress, and by taking advantage of the resources of industry and academia.

In fact, NOAA's Dr. William Karp, the Science and Research director for the National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, in Woods Hole, spoke at the forum of his support for greater engagement with industry and academic partners. He said they can help improve the data used to make decisions that affect groundfishermen and the communities they and their families live in.

NOAA's resources, he said, aren't sufficient to do the huge job.

The problem comes into focus when we see how difficult it has been for NOAA surveys to deliver reliable data. UMass Dartmouth's School of Marine Science and Technology has been able — on $450,000 of government funding — to run innovative surveys with video cameras on trawls that show a nonstop stream of fish in the bottom 6 to 8 feet of the water column. SMAST's data suggest populations of yellowtail flounder and Gulf of Maine cod multiple factors higher than NOAA's.

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