Congressman Boehlert: New England’s ocean treasures deserve protection

This post is an excerpt from an opinion piece in The Patriot Ledger, in which former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (Republican, former Chair of the House Science Committee) expresses his support of Marine National Monument designation in New England. You can read the entire piece here.

In 2006, President George W. Bush wisely used his presidential authority under the Antiquities Act to protect a vital ocean ecosystem off the coast of Hawaii. Two years later, again in the Pacific, he protected other critically important marine areas characterized by reefs, atolls and vast underwater canyons.

All together he created four Marine National Monuments covering more than 600,000 square miles. Preserving these ecologically important marine habitats was essential for the residents of Hawaii, Guam and other Pacific islands, who depend heavily on a healthy and productive ocean. These monuments enjoy overwhelming local support.

Here in the Northeast we rely on a healthy and productive Atlantic Ocean, which is why I was thrilled to learn that the Obama Administration is considering the same protection for New England’s coral canyons and seamounts, a biologically critical area of ocean 150 miles off the coast of Cape Cod.

True to its name, this area is characterized by underwater canyons – some of which are deeper than the Grand Canyon – and mountains extending up to 7,000 feet from the ocean floor. It is a unique underwater environment that hosts a rich and diverse array of life, which is crucial to the health and resilience of New England’s ocean fish and marine mammal populations.

The many colorful cold-water corals that inhabit these canyons and seamounts, some of which are the size of small trees, take centuries to grow and were alive back in 1906 when President Theodore Roosevelt was signing the Antiquities Act into law.

And with the livelihood of so many, along with the maritime culture and heritage of our coastal communities, hinging on responsible ocean stewardship, this is an area that clearly should be the Atlantic’s first Marine National Monument.

Continue reading in The Patriot Ledger.

Zooplankton: A tiny creature with a big role in the cod crisis

One of the North Atlantic’s smallest ocean critters is making big waves in New England.

Centropages. Photo courtesy NOAA
Centropages. Photo courtesy NOAA

Over the last decade, we’ve seen the collapse of our iconic Atlantic cod fishery due to extreme overfishing. Now, a new study is showing a potentially disastrous link between the effects of climate change and the ailing species’ chance of recovery.

Warming waters are bound to be bad news for a cold water fish, but the problem goes much deeper than that, affecting the entire life cycle of the species. Some of this is due to tiny, microscopic creatures called zooplankton. So what are these little guys, and why are they so important?

Zooplankton is a categorization of a type of ocean organism that includes various species, including Pseudocalanus spp, and Centropages typicus. These two species happen to be the major food source of larval cod in the Gulf of Maine.

Zooplankton, which are usually smaller than 1/10 of an inch, play a major role in the Atlantic’s food web. When there are lots of them, things are pretty good. Young fish prey on them and grow to be healthy, adult fish.

But when there aren’t enough plankton to go around, species like Atlantic cod can suffer. When cod larvae aren’t easily able to find the food they need to grow, fewer of them make it to their first birthday.

And without lots of cod that survive to be at least 4 years old (the age at which females begin spawning), the recovery of the entire stock can stall. The stock needs larger, older, more productive females to thrive in order to have any hope for recovery.

Warming and shifting

But why would the plankton be in such short supply? This is where climate change comes in. According to NOAA, temperature changes can cause the redistribution of plankton communities. In the Gulf of Maine, scientists have found fewer plankton in the same areas where cod populations have been found to be struggling. The shifts in temperature lead to the displacement of a critical food source, making it difficult for young cod to survive.

Larval cod. Photo courtesy NOAA
Larval cod. Photo courtesy NOAA

With the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of ocean areas, this is an enormously alarming problem. More temperature changes and the shifting of plankton populations could make it even harder for New England cod populations to return to healthy, sustainable levels.

While the cod crisis is the result of many factors – but the loss of tiny zooplankton is a big problem. When considering how to best help cod stocks recover, fishery managers must take into account the effects of climate change, or else risk the total collapse of the species.

BOO! Happy Halloween from this spooky species, the Monkfish

 

Lophius_americanus_museum_of_nature
Photo courtesy Mike Beauregard via Wikimedia Commons

In honor of Halloween, we’ve decided to highlight one of the more creepy looking fish that can be found in the waters off of New England. The monkfish (Lophius americanus), also known as goose-fish, anglerfish, and sea-devil, is considered a delicacy abroad, but until recently has been overlooked in America, perhaps due to its obtrusive appearance.

The monkfish is highly recognizable, with its brown, tadpole-shaped body, and its gaping, fang-filled mouth. These eerie-looking fish can be found from Newfoundland to Georges Bank, and all the way down to North Carolina. They prefer to dwell on the sandy or muddy ocean-floor, where they feed on a variety of small lobsters, fish, and eels. Monkfish are typically found at depths of 230-330 feet, but have been caught in waters as deep as 2,700 feet; they have also been known to occasionally rise to the surface and consume small, unsuspecting birds. Females can grow up to forty inches and males up to thirty-five inches, and both can weigh up to seventy pounds. The average market size fish is around seventeen to twenty inches long.

Before the 1960s, monkfish were considered to be undesirable bycatch. However, in the wake of the collapse of the New England Atlantic Cod fishery, the monkfish has slowly started to become a more common alternative, in part due to awareness campaigns about “underutilized species” in New England. Now, monkfish is caught to supply both international and domestic demand – the tail is prized for its firm texture and sweet taste, perfect for baking and poaching, and the liver is used in Japanese sushi.

In fact, in the last two decades, fishing has increased so dramatically that monkfish stocks started to decline. Landings peaked in 1997 at sixty million pounds. However, thanks to the quick action of both the United States and Canada, a management plan was put in place and the stock population started to increase and stabilize. Landings now average around thirty-five million pounds annually. Monkfish are caught using trawls, gillnets, and dredges. The fishery is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the New England Regional Fishery Management Council, and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. These organizations do not impose annual catch limits, but do limit daily catches as well as limit access to the fishery. Nevertheless, the catch is still exceeding target catch levels in certain locations.

Current threats to monkfish are common among New England marine species: warming temperatures, ocean acidification, and habitat loss.

NOAA Fishwatch considers monkfish to be well managed and a “smart seafood choice” – however, it is still vulnerable, and the fishery should continue to be closely monitored, or it could suffer the same fate as other groundfish fisheries.

So, if you are looking for a spooky-themed seafood dish for this weekend’s festivities, it might be time to give monkfish a try… It would also make one unique Halloween costume!

Save the Whales: Create marine protected areas

“Save the Whales” was a popular cry in the late 1980s to ban commercial whaling worldwide. While progress has certainly been made, this phrase should not be relegated to a dated trope: Many whale populations are still struggling, including our New England’s own North Atlantic Right Whale.

Found from Nova Scotia to Florida, the area from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Cod is essential for this endangered species. Its name comes from the idea that it was the “right” whale to hunt – it was slow-moving and had lots of oil and baleen. Commercial whaling for this species ended in 1935, but these New England whales are still rebuilding.

Zach Klyver, a naturalist with Bar Harbor Whale Watch, has conducted surveys commissioned by the New England Aquarium on whales in the Cashes Ledge Area in the Gulf of Maine. During these winter surveys, Klyer says he saw many right whales breeching just before sunset. According to Klyver, “Cashes Ledge is a significant place for right whales year-round.”

Marine protected areas allow species like the right whale to find refuge from human threats and to thrive. Dr. Scott Kraus, marine scientist at the New England Aquarium, says that the reason Cashes Ledge in particular is important is because “The landscape underwater has a lot of steep angles and hills, so that any water currents rush to the surface. This makes plankton bloom, and it brings fish in – it’s a great restaurant for whales in New England.”

Thriving whale populations also help boost tourism during the popular whale-watching season—more whales means more opportunities for sightseeing. Tourism in New England provides 230,000 jobs and brings in $16 billion – more than all the fisheries, forestry, and agriculture industries combined – making it the life blood of New England’s economy.

An expanding coalition is working to establish permanent protections for Cashes Ledge and another important New England area, the Coral Canyons and Seamounts, by calling on President Obama to establish the first Marine National Monument in the Atlantic. Join the conversation on Twitter: Tweet with #SaveOceanTreasures

 

#SaveOceanTreasures: Attend the NOAA Town Hall Meeting on Sept. 15 in Providence

Momentum is building for protecting ocean habitats in New England – and your voice has never been more important. Next Tuesday, September 15, NOAA is holding a town hall meeting to hear from people like you about why Cashes Ledge and the New England Canyons and Seamounts deserve protection as the Atlantic’s first Marine National Monuments.

If you will be in the area, we encourage you to attend! Sign up here to let us know you’ll be attending. If not, spread the word about this event to friends, family, colleagues, or others you know who may live or work near Providence, RI.

The NOAA Town Hall Meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 6-8 p.m. at the Providence Marriott Downtown, 1 Orms St, Providence, RI, in the Sessions/College/Canal Room. We need to show the Obama Administration that there is overwhelming public support for permanently protecting the Cashes Ledge Area.

The Administration has indicated that it will consider permanent protection of New England’s Canyons and Seamounts. But Cashes Ledge is at risk of being left out. Your presence and support is needed now more than ever!

The Cashes Ledge area provides refuge for hundreds of marine species, many of which are rare and unique, and is critical to the vibrancy of our coastal communities. Under perpetual threat from human impacts, such as climate change, industrial exploitation and fishing, Cashes Ledge is a jewel that needs full protection right now.

If you have not yet done so, please sign our petition asking the President to designate Marine National Monuments for the Cashes Ledge Area and the Canyons and Seamounts.

Thank you so much for your support in this critical time.

Fish Friday: Acadian Redfish – Consume Regularly for a Healthy Ocean

A Floral Fish?
I must admit, it was a lovely little nickname of the Acadian redfish (Sebastes fasciatus) that drew me to feature this cool creature – “rosefish.” While they most certainly do not stay true to this name in odor, they make up for it in color. Redfish range from pale yellow to bright red, much like their floral namesake.
Acadian Redfish
Acadian redfish – a rosey-hued deep sea dweller. Image via NOAA Fishwatch.

You may also recognize redfish by the name “ocean perch,” but they are not, in fact, perch (genus Perca); they are actually rockfish (genus Sebastes). Literally, these guys love rocks…and mud, and clay. Basically, they love bottom substrates.

In the Gulf of Maine, redfish most commonly live at depths up to 975 feet. Juveniles are often found hanging out around deep sea corals such as Primnoa. The corals serve as nursery grounds that provide shelter and an array of delicious invertebrates for the juveniles to snack on. As they mature, they begin to feed on larger invertebrates and small fish.
Redfish and Primnoa
A redfish hangs out under some Primnoa. Image via NOAA Fishwatch.

Military-Grade Protein

Unlike cod and haddock, redfish weren’t always a crowd favorite. But in the 1930s, food freezing technology was developed, and the market for frozen redfish quickly arose. The fish were readily abundant and easily distributed in frozen form, making them a perfect source of protein for the U.S. military in the 1940s and 1950s. Unfortunately, by the mid-1980s, heavily-exploited redfish stocks reached an all-time low.

Around this time, scientists determined that redfish have sensitive biological characteristics that make them particularly vulnerable to overfishing: slow growth rates, low reproductive rates, late sexual maturity, and long lifespans. Taking these factors into consideration, fishery managers imposed strict regulations on fishing gear, catch limits, and fishing areas for Acadian redfish. By June 2012, the stock was declared fully recovered. The population is now estimated to be at 32% above the target population – a true fisheries management success story!

Changing Gear and Changing Mindsets

Redfish populations may be thriving, but neither fishermen nor consumers have been paying them much attention. In 2010, only about 23% of the total allowable Gulf of Maine total allowable catch was harvested. Add to that the fact that most of the GOM harvest was used as lobster bait, and you have a seriously underutilized species on your hands!

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Cooperative Research took action to help the redfish fishery reach its full potential. Fishermen joined government officials, scientists and researchers, and other industry leaders for REDNET, a collaborative effort to “efficiently harvest the redfish resource in the Gulf of Maine while avoiding non-target catch” (NOAA Fishwatch).

Redfish grow up to 20 inches, but they have a flattened shape. Although still a victim to bycatch, their narrow bodies sometimes allow them to slip through standard 6.5 inch mesh groundfish nets. In March 2011, REDNET partners tested a 4.5 inch mesh on five commercial trips in the Gulf of Maine. According to the April 2012 Completion Report, the smaller mesh was extremely effective; the trips harvested commercial levels of redfish without significant levels of bycatch, which had been the fear.

After the successful demonstration of the 4.5 inch mesh, the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) passed a rule allowing trawlers to use the smaller mesh only when targeting redfish (catch must be 80 percent redfish). With regulations in place, fishermen just need the incentive to commercially harvest redfish; they need to see that there is a market for their catch, that consumers are demanding the species.

Mmmm…..redfish

Remember how we talked about silver hake, another underappreciated GOM species? How the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) is running Out of the Blue to elevate consumer awareness and make under-loved GOM species profitable for fishermen to target? The Acadian redfish is in the same boat (pun intended!). GMRI is working with chefs, restaurants, and institutions to rebuild demand and create a market for redfish. Think: providing sustainable seafood information to culinary partners, rewarding restaurants that practice marine resource stewardship, and hosting a Seafood Dining Series to educate consumers. They want to give overfished populations, such as cod, a break by promoting more abundant alternatives. Maple miso redfish, anyone?

It keeps getting better. Acadian redfish are available year round; they’re low in saturated fat, calories, and mercury; and they’re good sources of calcium, protein, phosphorus, selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. So next time you’re craving fish tacos, make them spicy redfish tacos a delicious choice that’s good for the ocean and good for you.

Special Species Round-Up: 6 Creatures found in Cashes Ledge

If you are familiar with New England Ocean Odyssey, you know we love Cashes Ledge, a majestic 25-mile undersea mountain range and biological hot spot in the Gulf of Maine.Kelp Forest at Cashes Ledge; 70-miles off the coast of Maine

You know that this natural laboratory offers scientists the chance to explore a relatively pristine and unique ecosystem, to discover and observe rare and endangered species, and to hypothesize about what the greater Gulf of Maine looked like before the commercial fishing industry existed.

You know that Ammen Rock, the highest peak in the mountain chain, rises from a depth of 460 feet all the way up into the photic zone (exposure to sunlight), just 40 feet below the ocean’s surface. And you know that Ammen Rock disrupts the dominant Gulf of Maine current, swirling nutrient- and oxygen-rich waters from the seafloor to the top of the water column, providing ideal conditions for a huge array of marine life including sponges, corals, anemones, predatory fish, sharks, whales, and more.

But what specific special species reside at Cashes Ledge, and what migratory visitors stop by throughout the year? Let’s dive a little deeper and find out!

1. (Unclassified) Blue Sponge

This species is so incredibly rare, it hasn’t even been sighted anywhere apart from the rocky walls of Cashes Ledge, let alone taxonomically classified. Needless to say, we have a lot to learn about this species. Cashes is also home to a variety of bright red, orange, and yellow sponges, including mounding sponges as big as footballs! Cod and Invertebrates

Cod swim under a wall of sponges and other invertebrates. Image via NOAA/ONMS

Sponges are primitive creatures that latch on to hard surfaces anywhere from the intertidal zone to the deep ocean floor. They filter feed by absorbing tiny organisms through incurrent (think “inbound”) pores and excreting waste through excurrent (“outbound”) pores. Many sponges can reproduce either sexually or asexually.

 

2. Red Cod

You’ve read about, seen, and probably eaten Atlantic cod…but have you ever heard of red Atlantic cod? While genetic testing has yet to determine if this variation is a distinct species, Graham Sherwood, Research Scientist at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine, hypothesizes that it is not. All cod eat high levels of carotenoids (natural pigments found in organisms such as crabs and worms), so it’s no surprise that some cod are red in color. But why are some red while most are olive-colored?

Kelp Forest and Cod at Cashes Ledge; 70-miles off the coast of Maine

Kelp Forest and Red Cod at Cashes Ledge; 70-miles off the coast of Maine

An olive cod (top) and a red cod (bottom) swim through kelp forests at Cashes Ledge. Images via Brian Skerry for New England Ocean Odyssey.
Sherwood’s theory is that the red coloring is an adaptive advantage. Red cod typically permanently reside in shallower kelp forests, while olive-colored cod roam around deeper waters in the North Atlantic. The red coloring may be a U/V protectant or a form of camouflage for shallower waters. We’ll have to stay tuned to find out if red cod are a separate species, or if they are just a colorful variation of olive-colored Atlantic cod.

Check out more Brian Skerry photos of red and olive-colored cod at Cashes Ledge.

 

3. Christmas Anemone

Urticina crassicornis, the Christmas anemone, resides on rock faces at depths up to about 100 feet and may grow to be a foot tall and 8 inches in diameter. It feeds on crabs, urchins, mussels, gastropods, chitons, barnacles, and fish by stinging and stunning prey with venomous cells found in the anemone’s tentacles.

The candy-striped shrimp, Lebbeus grandimanus, is immune to the Christmas anemone’s sting; the two organisms live in a commensal relationship whereby the anemone provides shelter for the shrimp, and the shrimp does not affect the anemone.

Red Anemone A Northern red anemone on a rock wall at Cashes Ledge. CLF/Brett Seymour.

 

 

 

 

4. Porbeagle

Cod and InvertebratesPorbeagle, Lamna nasus. Credit NMFS/E. Hoffmayer, S. Iglésias and R. McAuley.

No, that’s not a white shark – it’s the great white’s lesser known relative, the porbeagle, Lamna nasus. The porbeagle can be easily distinguished from a white shark by its second dorsal fin (that tiny second bump on the shark’s back before its tail). These big guys can grow up to 11 ½ feet long and are highly migratory throughout the Northwest Atlantic. They tend to stay out of shallow waters along the coast, preferring pelagic waters from the surface to depths of 1000 feet. In the Gulf of Maine, they feed on mackerel, herring, other small fish and sharks, and squids.

NOAA listed the porbeagle as a “Species of Concern” for the Northwest Atlantic stock in 2006, the same year that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature listed the subpopulation as endangered. Since the 1960s, overfishing has been a major threat to porbeagles, which are slow-growing with low productivity rates, making it difficult for populations to recover. In the U.S., the species is managed by the Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is currently reviewing two 2010 proposals to list the porbeagle on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the Endangered Species Act.

 

5. North Atlantic Right Whale

The waters off the coast of New England get some magnificent, gigantic visitors. Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales, Eubalaena glacialis, hang out around New England and the Bay of Fundy in the summer and fall to feed on zooplankton and raise their young. They move about the Gulf of Maine in a regular pattern, often stopping at Cashes Ledge, where regular circulation of the water column produces plankton-rich waters. In the winter months, the whales typically migrate to birthing grounds in the coastal waters off the southeastern United States.

The North Atlantic Right Whale was subject to intensive whaling from the 1500s through 1935; populations off the east coast of North America are still struggling to recover, due in large part to boat collisions and entanglement in fishing gear.

North Atlantic Right Whale with Provincetown lighthouse (Long Point) in the backgroundA North Atlantic Right Whale in Cape Cod Bay in front of Provincetown, MA. Image via Brian Skerry for New England Ocean Odyssey.

 

 

6. Bubble Gum Coral

Deep-water coral colonies thrive in the cold, nutrient-rich waters of Cashes Ledge. Paragorgia arborea, nicknamed bubble gum coral for its pink color, is a fan-shaped coral (aka “sea fan”…creative, right?) that typically inhabits exposed locations at depths of 600 to 4,300 feet. It can grow up to six meters tall, making it a real treasure for divers to spot. At Cashes Ledge, Paragorgia inhabits the hard-bottom basalt substrate.

Deep sea corals grow slowly and may live to be thousands of years old, making them extremely susceptible to lasting damage from bottom trawlers. One sweep of a trawl net can destroy centuries of growth – a problem not only for the corals, but also for the marine species that use the corals as a nursery and refuge habitat.

Paragorgia

Paragorgia colonies in the New England Seamount chain. Image via NOAA Ocean Explorer.

These are just six of the marvelous, charismatic species that depend on the nutrient-rich waters of Cashes Ledge. If we are to protect them, we must start by protecting Cashes Ledge.

Fish Friday: Silver Hake – A Scrumptious and Sustainable Cod Substitute

You’ve heard a lot about cod lately. If you’re a fish-eating fan, you’ve probably eaten your fair SilverHakeshare, too. But as New England stocks have been continuously overfished since the 1980s and 1990s, isn’t it time we considered some delicious cod substitutes? How about another scrumptious whitefish (and today’s fishy feature), the silver hake?!

Hungry Hungry Hake

Silver hake (Merluccius bilinearies­), also known as Atlantic whiting, are medium-sized fish that may grow to be 5 lbs and upwards of 28” long. As nocturnal and semi-pelagic predators, they spend their days resting on the sandy, pebble ocean floor during the day and move up the water column to feed from around dusk to midnight.

Atlantic whiting are vital to the Gulf of Maine (GOM) ecosystem because they serve as both predator and prey species. Silver hake are so abundant and such voracious predators that they help to regulate prey populations. They are a piscivorous species, meaning they feed on other fish including young herring, mackerel, menhaden, alewives, and sand lance, in addition to crustaceans and squids. But whiting don’t just eat a ton – they also get eaten a ton! Nearly all predators in the Gulf of Maine consume whiting, especially cod, tuna, and other silver hake (so piscivorous…and cannibalistic!). 

Stable Stocks

In the Northwest Atlantic, silver hake are managed as two stocks – one to the north (the Gulf of Maine and Northern Georges Bank) and one to the south (Southern Georges Bank all the way to Cape Hatteras). In the summer months, adult fish migrate to shallow waters in the Northwest Atlantic to spawn. Both stocks can be found in the Gulf of Maine from Cape Cod to Grand Manan Island, in the southern and southeastern portions of Georges Bank, and just south of Martha’s Vineyard.

Thanks to monitoring by NOAA’s New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, there is sufficient data to accurately assess Atlantic whiting stocks. And good news – both the northern and southern populations are stable with no evidence of overfishing!

NEFMC manages the Atlantic whiting stocks under the New England Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP). In 2000, Amendment 12 to the FMP designated silver hake as “small-mesh multispecies.” The Amendment also established retention limits, defined “overfishing” for the species, identified critical habitat, and set fishing gear requirements. In 2013, Amendment 19 to the FMP established annual catch limits and put accountability measures in place.

Fishing requirements for “small-mesh” species are put in place to reduce bycatch of vulnerable populations, such as cod. In 2002, fishermen and scientists began experimenting with modified otter trawls, trying to determine the best way to target silver hake without impacting the benthic marine environment or other fish populations. They began using sweepless nets, trawl nets without groundgear components. These nets reduced bycatch of lobster and other benthic species to just 2%! Researchers then began testing the Nordmore grate, which prevent larger finfish (yes, cod) from being caught, while letting smaller fish (whiting) pass into the trawl nets. These designs were incredibly successful and have been adopted into portions of the management plan.

The GOM whiting fishery is open from July 1 to November 30 each year, and, if fishermen use sweepless trawl nets and Nordmore grates, they may harvest from areas closed to other fishing types. So why are New England fishermen ignoring silver hake and still overfishing cod?

A Scrumptious and Sustainable Substitute

For decades, only a handful of fish species, like cod and salmon, have ruled our plates and menus. The high demand for such prominent species has put many stocks at severe risk of overfishing and driven some to near depletion.

Meanwhile, perfectly edible (nay, delicious!) species, such as silver hake and dogfish, are not at risk of overfishing – in fact, they’re relatively ignored.

Historically undervalued and underappreciated, silver hake has long been considered a “bycatch” species, deemed unworthy of human consumption.

In 2013, the average boat price for Atlantic cod was $2.10/lb, while silver hake went for only $0.64/lb. Why the discrepancy? A total lack of U.S. consumer awareness.

Low demand means that Maine fishermen can’t afford to target underutilized species. In 2014, only 16% of the potential GOM silver hake harvest was taken. Meanwhile, other GOM stocks are struggling to maintain viable populations.

To address this imbalance, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) began Out of the Blue, a consumer awareness campaign that brings together restaurant, retail, and institutional partners to promote the consumption of five GOM underappreciated species: Acadian redfish, Atlantic mackerel, cape shark (dogfish), whiting, and Atlantic pollock. As part of the campaign, GMRI and local restaurant partners run a Seafood Dining Series to bring these species to New Englanders’ plates. Have you tried them yet?!

Red’s Best, a New England seafood network, also recently launched an initiative to improve seafood sustainability and traceability in the region. Red’s ensures that consumers are able to trace their purchase through transportation, processing, and distribution, and provides fishermen with incentive to fish underloved species.

Consumers – it’s our turn. Let’s help the fishermen help the New England cod stocks by switching to a more sustainable alternative. How good does whiting with garlic and lemon sound? We want whiting!

Bonus: check out more drool-worthy Out of the Blue recipes and helpful cooking tips!