Discover Channel show features debate over New England cod

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A new documentary is seeking to find solutions in the debate about New England cod.

“Sacred Cod,” which premieres at 9 p.m. today on Discovery, gives time to both the commercial fishing industry and the scientists who are struggling to convey drastic drops in the region’s cod population.

Andy Laub, founder of As It Happens Creative, Endicott College’s Steve Liss and award-winning Boston Globe reporter David Abel offer warm, robust and sympathetic portraits of Gloucestermen with a powerful work ethic, love of family and faith in the American Dream.

“They also thoughtfully and thoroughly present the point of view of the bureaucrats and scientists who are trying to do what’s best with the information they have,” a Boston Globe article said about the program. “Emerging as heroes are those willing to consider both sides and seek new solutions.”

After centuries of plentiful cod populations, the Gulf of Maine’s cod catch plummeted and government surveys of the iconic species reported increasingly dire results. Scientists and environmental activists raised alarms about overfishing and the warming ocean, according to the “Sacred Cod” website.

In the summer of 2014 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the cod population had dwindled to as little as 3 percent of what it would take to sustain a healthy population.

On Nov. 10, 2014, NOAA banned virtually all cod fishing in the region, infuriating fishermen and prompting them to challenge the findings.

Though not a species that is often fished recreationally, the documentary explores issues that also entangle the recreational fishing industry, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico region regarding red snapper.

The documentary explores the plentiful dogfish, which chefs say is palatable but suffers from an unfortunate fate.

“Let’s go down the same road as the Patagonian toothfish turned great sea bass,” said one advocate, according to the Globe. “The former dogfish, now Cape shark, is the way to the future.”

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