30 Sep '11, 3pm

Dot Earth Blog: When Cod Piled High: A glimpse of past abundance in yellowed 19th-century fishing logs.

Dot Earth Blog: When Cod Piled High: A glimpse of past abundance in yellowed 19th-century fishing logs.

A visit to the National Archives outside of Boston with marine historians Bill Leavenworth and Karen Alexander opened the world of New England fishing journals of the 1850s and ‘60s. One conclusion: We now have only 5 percent of the cod they had then. The fishermen fished for shares of the profits with handlines from the rails. Each fisherman usually hauled up dozens of cod daily. When the cod showed signs of depletion, the gear changed to longlines and then nets. One captain’s sketch indicates the density of boats, the density of birds (showing abundant prey fish for cod in the area), and the fishermen and their lines. All day I had the captains who authored those 150-year-old logbooks whispering in my head. They would have been amazed by our sonar, radar, GPS, internal combustion engines, rods and reels, bananas, and bags of potato chips. But to see that the bay where th...

Full article: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/when-cod-pil...

Tweets