South Shore: New fish study underway in attempt to revitalize cod population

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A new study is being launched by the State Division of Marine Fisheries along with local scientists and fishermen to try to track when and where cod go to reproduce. The ultimate goal is to allow more cod spawning to happen which they hope will help revitalize the population.

“We’re tagging cod with these acoustic transmitters, roughly about the size of a tube of lipstick, and then we actually surgically implant that in the body cavity of the fish,” said Bill Hoffman, a scientist with the Division of Marine Fisheries.

150 of those transmitters are going into the cod population off the South Shore, and 34 receivers have been installed in the waters off the coast of Massachusetts.

“When the fish arrive, the transmitters will talk to these receivers, and we can actually track individual fish. By doing this, we’ll actually monitor the movements of these fish – when they’re arriving, where in this large area are their primary hotspots,” Hoffman said.

Another project coming out of this study is acoustic monitoring. Scientists are dropping devices in the ocean that listen for the grunting sound cod make when they spawn. Ultimately, Department of Fish and Game commissioner Mary Griffin says they want to leave the cod alone while they do their business.

“One thing that is definitely on the table is some more precise closed areas during the spawning period,” Griffin said. “So knowing exactly where the fish are coming and when they’re there would allow a tailored approach to fisheries management that doesn’t include more areas than is necessary or a longer time period but does enough to protect the spawning cod.”

Researchers say they should have enough information to start making some changes by the end of next year.

State Senator Bob Hedlund speaks at the event introducing the study at the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary in Scituate

State Senator Bob Hedlund speaks at the event introducing the study at the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary in Scituate on Wednesday.
Photo by Steve Burns

 

About Steve Burns

Steve comes to the South Shore by way of the Jersey Shore. Upon arriving at Emerson College in Boston back in 2010, and eventual graduation in 2014, Steve was immediately attracted to radio as an outlet for his reporting. Previous stops before the South Shore include WOBM on the Jersey Shore, WCCM in the Merrimack Valley, an internship at CBS Radio News' flagship station, WCBS 880 in New York City, and a few formative years at Emerson's WERS.