A new video system designed by UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) scientists to assess the population of cod has passed its first major test, giving the researchers confidence that they can use this new approach to help improve the accuracy of future scientific assessments of this iconic species. Recent stock assessments indicate that the Gulf of Maine cod population is low and struggling to recover. Members of the fishing industry contest those results, suggesting the stock is much healthier than depicted in recent assessments.

“Our goal is to provide all stakeholders in this issue with trustworthy science that leads to smart management of the Gulf of Maine cod fishery,’’ said Dr. Kevin Stokesbury, whose team conducted the test. “We are pleased with the initial results and are looking forward to scaling up our work.”

The Baker-Polito Administration provided $96,720 in capital money through the state Division of Marine Fisheries to fund research tows recently conducted on Stellwagen Bank. This work builds on similar research that Dr. Stokesbury’s team has conducted on yellowtail flounder, which is also facing difficulty. Of special note, Dr. Stokesbury’s approach has been successfully used over the last sixteen years to measure the scallop population of the east coast resulting in improved assessments integral to sustaining that fishery and keeping New Bedford the top-ranked fishing port in the U.S.

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