PORTLAND, Maine — Seeking to end a long-running disagreement about exactly how many cod are left in the Gulf of Maine, federal scientists plan to outfit commercial fishermen with equipment used to establish groundfish quotas.
The fishermen tend to argue that there are more cod than the government realizes; therefore, the number they may legally catch should be higher. Government scientists counter that fishermen’s natural tendency to fish where they are most likely to catch large numbers leads them to overestimate the cod population in the entire Gulf of Maine.
By next year, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center hopes to begin outfitting commercial boats with surveying equipment and paying fishermen to pull in catches that will supplement the regular trawl surveys conducted by government scientists, according to Russell Brown, who heads the center’s population dynamics branch. The gathered data will be fed into the complex process used to set catch quotas.