Cape Cod: Summing up the seals

When David Pierce seated himself at the table at the Nantucket Seal Symposium last month, one image came to mind: private pilot Aaron Knight’s video from last April showing miles of gray seals – a dozen deep, cheek by jowl, banding the Monomoy shoreline. Recently appointed as director of the state Division of Marine Fisheries, Pierce is a veteran of decades of fisheries negotiations as former director Paul Diodati’s proxy on the New England Fishery Management Council. Fishery managers live and die by population estimates, known as stock assessments, that help set sustainable catch levels for commercial fishermen, so it was disconcerting to hear that the same level of science had not been applied to the predators who eat them. “The determination of population size is extremely important, especially in the context of ecosystem management in New England,” Pierce said. “If they (gray seals) are out there in large numbers foraging, what might their impact be on the Georges Bank ecosystem?” The answer will not be coming any time soon, according to federal fisheries officials at the symposium. Read the story here 09:43