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The future of America’s first fishery by Michael Conathan May 01,2012   |  Source: Center for American Progress

Before Christopher Columbus’s grandparents were born, early European explorers from the Vikings to the Basques had already discovered an untold wealth of fish in the corner of the northwest Atlantic now known as the Gulf of Maine. Here the proximity of seemingly limitless stocks of cod that could be readily salted, dried, and transported back across the ocean helped establish communities that laid the groundwork for our modern-day society.

Today there is no more iconic profession in eastern New England than fishing. From the “Ocean State” of Rhode Island, to the Sacred Cod that has hung in the Massachusetts House of Representatives chamber since 1784, to the lobster that epitomizes coastal Maine, fish are integral to New England’s culture and economy.

Today this fishery—which was once so robust, legend says, that fishermen could haul in a healthy catch just by dropping a weighted basket over the side of a skiff— is struggling to recover from decades of overfishing.

Coastal communities throughout New England rely on fishing as a fundamental source of employment, revenue, and cultural identity. And interest in this fishery expands beyond the shores from Eastport, Maine, to Point Judith, Rhode Island. As consumers become ever more educated about their


© Center for American Progress

Theme(s): Fisheries Development and Aquaculture.

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