Cod have been disappearing from the waters between Massachusetts and Maine, and shrimp populations are so depleted that the commercial shrimp season in the Gulf of Maine has been cancelled for the last three years. At the same time, lobster are flourishing — alongside a host of species that have never before thrived in New England waters.
Why the wild ups and downs? One reason is that nearby waters are warming much faster than the rest of the ocean, making the environment newly unbearable for some longtime residents — and newly appealing for others. But overfishing has played a role as well, disrupting the balance of the watery ecosystem in unexpected ways. It’s hard to predict where all this is headed, whether for individual species or local fishing communities. But it needn’t be a story of doom and gloom. These undersea changes may well dampen the prospects of the cod industry, but they will also bring new opportunities.
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