‘Sea change:’ NOAA to shift fish surveys to Commercial Fishing Vessels

NOAA FSV Henry B. Bigelow. NOAA PhotoIn what one advocate called “a potential sea change” for the commercial fishing industry, NOAA Fisheries announced intentions Tuesday to shift all or part of long-controversial stock surveys from its Bigelow research vessel to commercial boats, saying a transition over the next five years could bring “greater shared confidence” in survey results. “We have to learn to work better with the (commercial fishing) industry — we have to open up better lines of communication,” Dr. Bill Karp, director of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, said of the transition. Don Cuddy, program director for the Center for Sustainable Fisheries in New Bedford, said fishermen also have felt the Bigelow is unable to accurately count “flatfish,” such as yellowtail flounder, because of the type of gear it tows. “This is going to affect everything across the board — the fishermen have been saying for years that the catch limits and stock assessments do not reflect what they’re seeing on the water,” said Cuddy, who used the “sea change” phrase. Read the story here 15:57