Over the past seven years, Kevin Norton watched the number of commercial groundfish vessels working out of his home port drop precipitously from 17 in 2009, to just four today.

“If not for the (federal fisheries) disaster money, there’d be no one left,” Norton said about fishermen who catch New England’s most familiar species like cod, haddock and flounder.

On July 11, Norton stood at the wooden wheel of Miss Emily, his 55-foot dragger. He was the only groundfisherman leaving from Scituate Harbor that day. He said he'd be tied up at the dock like the other three if he hadn’t been selected by the state to help Division of Marine Fisheries scientists conduct eight months of scientific research.

“All of our lives depend on this (the scientific data used to set fishing quotas),” he said. “That’s why this survey is so important.”

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