The Story of the Codfish Is Written Across 400 Years of Island History

The old wooden sailboat up on blocks inside the shed at the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society in Edgartown doesn't look like much.

The white lapstrake boat, less than 20 feet in length, has not been in the water since it was brought to the society in December 1936 from Menemsha Creek. The paint has come off in many places. There is little chance she will ever float again.

Gone Fishing: Anglers Gear Up as Tournament Hits Milestone

If you need to talk to Steve Morris this weekend, you probably won't find him working behind the counter at his store, Dick's Bait and Tackle, in Oak Bluffs.

If you are looking to chew the fat with Patrick Jenkinson at Up-Island Automotive in West Tisbury, you are also probably going to be out of luck.

And if your water heater breaks and you need Steve Amaral to fix it, you better call another plumber.

Scientists Study Groundfish Net by Net, Sifting the Sea in Pursuit of Knowledge

On an open sea deck, with the rolling waves of Georges Bank a mere eight feet away, Jon Brodziak cuts, and with tweezers takes a bone from each of the two inner ears of a haddock.

He places them in a small envelope for future study.

Then he does it again with another haddock. And again.

The bone is the otolith, which is used to tell the age of the fish; it is a far better measure than length.

Mr. Brodziak, along with several other scientists, is in the middle of a six-hour shift on the Albatross IV, in the pitch black night on the open ocean.

A Bank Shaped by Geology and Politics

Georges Bank is a huge underwater island - 20,000 square miles and as large as the state of Massachusetts - that lies just below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

The bank is part of the continental shelf. More than 10,000 years ago, geologists believe, the bank was a high and dry island.

As the ocean rose, the island was submerged. Fish love the bank because it is a great source for food. Water depths are not much more than 100 feet and sometimes as shallow as 20 feet. Light from the sun penetrates to the bottom and supports a world of microscopic plankton that fish eat.

On Board Ship in Ocean Storm: Shoals Brew Powerful Weather

Pots and pans rattle. The television slides back and forth. Each time the bow of the Albatross IV slides up over the crest of a wave, something inside the 187-foot vessel bangs or rolls.

Twenty seconds later, when the bow descends into the valley of the next wave, the pots and pans bang back and forth again.

On this day, Sunday, April 3, the ship is on Georges Bank, more than 100 miles east of Cape Cod, so far from land it is not worth seeking shelter. The ship rides the waves at Cultivator Shoal, once a prime fishing area.

Cod in State of Collapse; Haddock Sees Recovery at Fabled Ocean Ground

Capt. Gregory Mayhew, a Vineyard native and lifelong resident of Chilmark, runs the 75-foot steel dragger Unicorn out of Menemsha. This summer, for the first time in more than 20 years, he went sea scalloping. The reason, he said, is economics.

Managers and Fishermen Collide in Search for Answers, Solutions

The question of how cod stocks fell so low in the waters off New England is almost as perplexing as the question of how to bring about recovery.

The favorite reason - too much fishing pressure - is followed by other explanations, including changes in ocean temperature and degradation of the environment. Perhaps it is a combination of these things.

Pinpointing the cause or causes of plummeting cod stocks is key to their rejuvenation.

A Lifetime Devoted to Oceangoing Science

Linda Despres, the chief scientist aboard the Albatross IV, has a haunting memory of visiting Georges Bank as a 23-year-old scientist.

"I have this picture in my mind of Georges Bank at night and seeing the lights of over 50 ships going back and forth across the horizon," she says.

Fishermen, Regulators Brace for Spring Herring Moratorium

Fishermen, Regulators Brace for Spring Herring Moratorium

By MARK ALAN LOVEWELL

Alewives, one of the great harbingers of spring, have returned to Vineyard waters.

But there is a crucial difference this year: the state of Massachusetts has barred people from catching or possessing these anadramous fish, which return from the ocean to spawn in freshwater ponds.

Last Draggers in Menemsha

Last Draggers in Menemsha

The Quitsa Strider II sits rusting at the dock in Menemsha. Her skipper Jonathan Mayhew, who has devoted his life to commercial fishing, has sold his days at sea. A Gloucester fishing cooperative has bought the permits that allow him to fish in federal waters.

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