Sustainable Seafood

The history books are pretty clear: no cod, no Boston.

It's hard to overstate the importance of the fishing industry to New England as a whole. The industry's well-documented decline in recent decades due to overfishing and mismanagement has taken its toll, but 80,000 people in Massachusetts still work in the commercial fishing business.

A lot of those 80,000 people will be biting their nails next week as the New England Fishery Management Council votes whether to adopt a new system that could revolutionize the way groundfishing is regulated in the region.

Basically, the idea is to move from a framework in which fishermen have their days at sea capped by the feds, to one in which their annual catch is capped based on standards set by community-based co-ops.

The advocates say this could save both New England's fishing industry and the fisheries on which they rely.

This week on Radio Boston, we're using this regulatory impasse as an opportunity to ask some big questions: can New England's most beleaguered fish stocks rebound with better management, or is it too late? Is there even such a thing as sustainable New England seafood? As consumers, what should we look for at the grocery store? Is local necessarily better, like it seems to be with meat and produce?

This program aired on June 19, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.


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