Imagine you’ve been asked to redo three years worth of work in three months. Oh, and get a different result this time. I’m guessing you’d be grumpy. I know I would be.
Well, that’s basically what Senator Kerry and others pushing for a new assessment of Gulf of Maine cod were asking federal fishery scientists to do. So I can’t say that I was surprised to hear late last week that the request had been denied. Here’s the (extremely brief) AP story:
BOSTON (AP) _ The nation’s oceans chief has turned down a request made first by Sen. John Kerry for a new assessment of the health of Gulf of Maine cod.
New data indicates cod is badly overfished, and fishermen now face ruinous cuts in their catch. The data has drawn skepticism from fishermen because it’s a reversal of a recent, optimistic study.
In December, Kerry asked for a new cod assessment that fishermen can trust.
In a reply earlier this month, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Jane Lubchenco said a new assessment can’t be done in time for managers to make decisions for the May start of the fishing year.
She also said the agency doesn’t yet have new data needed to move ahead with further assessments. She assured Kerry she is committed to helping fishermen.
While I’m sure some will label Lubchenco’s comments stonewalling, the kicker is it’s true. Fishery scientists spend months at sea conducting surveys, then combine that with a multitude of other data sources to generate their best estimate of a given fish stock’s size and health. That process can’t possibly be crammed into the three months remaining before the start of the 2012 fishing season.
The alternative, I suppose, would be to reexamine the existing data. But consider this: if such a reassessment did produce a different answer, would what amounts to another reversal really be more trustworthy? Or simply more convenient?