Over the Bar

Billions of federal dollars with a message: Climate change is here

Billions of federal dollars with a message: Climate change is here

When talk about climate change and global warming started surfacing, many in the local commercial fishing fleet were skeptical.

If fishermen are nothing else, they are deeply engaged in the marine world, keen observers of their experiences offshore. Many keep detailed logbooks that record every trip, where they go, how much they land, water temperature, depth, all data points that captains connect to inform and define future effort. They trust their own observations and histories much more than surveys and assessments created by scientists on research vessels who come and go. Many times, fishermen have been proven right, which drives even more incredulity.

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Billions of federal dollars with a message: Climate change is here

To protect herring, we’re back in the regulatory weeds

When a single federal judge overturned and blocked years of work by many in this community (as well as allies up and down the coast) to stop mid-water trawling near our coast so we can help revive historic herring stocks and runs, it was a body blow. But we promised we’d get off the ropes and into the middle of the ring for another round.

Here we are.

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Billions of federal dollars with a message: Climate change is here

Bringing fish to the Economic Development Planning Council’s table

The Massachusetts Economic Development Planning Council showed up on the Cape in mid-June, part of a state-wide barnstorming tour to hear from people on the ground, in the workforce, and in our case on the water.

The idea is to create a four-year plan with priorities for how Massachusetts should think about our economy, and what state government can do to move us in the right directions.

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Billions of federal dollars with a message: Climate change is here

We hope Congress is poring over the “Status of US Fisheries”

Every year NOAA, meaning the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration as opposed to the guy with the ark, ships to Congress a report with a straightforward title:

“Status of US Fisheries.”

The report has some Biblical aspects, meant to be the definitive word delivered from on high so to speak. It always offers big-picture info, for example that commercial and recreational fisheries created 1.7 million jobs across the nation in 2022, and generated $253 billion in sales.

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Shifting research effort away from the famous flagship, the Bigelow

Shifting research effort away from the famous flagship, the Bigelow

The Bigelow, launched in 2005, is named after a remarkable man, Henry B. Bigelow, who helped create Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. As a scientist he spent a lot of his life on the water trying to understand fish. As a teacher he spent a lot of his life trying to impart that understanding at Harvard University and in books like “Fishes of the Gulf of Maine.”

So it’s fitting that a vessel built with noble intent, to create a platform for the best science to understand species and stocks, climate change, and all kinds of oceanographic realities, would be named for him

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Shifting research effort away from the famous flagship, the Bigelow

The aqua economy?

The term “green economy” has been in play for a while now, and we have a pretty good idea what it means at least in the abstract; an economy that builds jobs and prosperity while keeping environmental impact in mind, reducing or even reversing damage.

Of course how it translates on the ground and on the water, the real tradeoffs and specific measurements, is another matter and worth a long discussion that could begin with coffee and end with beer.

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Shifting research effort away from the famous flagship, the Bigelow

The amazing success of “Small Boats, Big Taste”

When we launched our “Small Boats Big Taste” program soon after COVID struck, we had clear goals but no idea if we could realize them:

Help independent small-boat fishermen and the fishing industry navigate past the pandemic’s new barriers.
Feed growing numbers of people facing food insecurity that comes when money shrinks.
Build local demand for local fish and keep it going and growing after start-up philanthropic support ends.

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Billions of federal dollars with a message: Climate change is here

Working to resurrect a buffer zone for herring

One of my most frustrating moments in many years working on fisheries issues arrived a few months ago, when a federal judge overturned a hard-fought reform that would have kept giant mid-water trawlers out of local waters, allowing herring and other crucial forage fish to return, school, and rebuild.

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Shifting research effort away from the famous flagship, the Bigelow

Looking back at some old favorites

Five years ago no one had heard of COVID, there had not yet been a deadly shark attack on Cape Cod, and fish prices (to the fishermen anyway) were just as unpredictable and fluctuating as they are today.

Meanwhile, in January 2018, we first published this emagazine, using “Small Boats, Big Ideas” as our flag.

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