Cape Codless

Journal E

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The waters of the Massachussetts coast were teeming with codfish in 1602 when Bartholomew Gosnold's crew filled his ship's deck with what seemed a limitless supply of this hearty ocean fish. Today, nearly four hundred years later, the story book fishing towns on the sleepy coasts of Cape Cod have woken up to the reality that they may have to permanently abandon their namesake.

It is a familiar story in just about every fishery in the world. New advances in technologies and electronics have made fishermen more efficient. With sonar to find the fish, bigger and more powerful boats to get to the fish, and improved nets to catch the fish, the fishermen are the first to admit that "the fish don't have a chance."

"We may have created an irreversible genetic mutation," says Joseph Kunkel, a leading scientist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He says that exploited fish stocks like the cod are undergoing radical changes due to over-harvesting.