October is National Seafood Month and a time to celebrate sustainably managed fisheries. Sustainably managed fisheries are those that maintain adequate populations of fish, manage and farm them in environmentally friendly ways. Sustainability in fisheries has been an issue receiving more attention lately as overfishing all over the world has diminished populations of many types of fish to dangerously low levels. After industry experts saw the sharp decline in their populations of healthy fish, many new initiatives were introduced to rebuild stocks. Since 2000, there have been 34 overfished stocks that have been rebuilt.
The local history on the south coast has been heavily influenced by the fishing industry and continues to be a major source of wealth for our area. The port of New Bedford is recognized as "New England's seafood hub" and continues to bring plentiful fresh fish to the east coast. We buy our seafood locally from the port of New Bedford, and fresh seafood dishes will be featured on campus during the month of October, culminating with Lobster night in the Marketplace. Currently, the port generates over one billion dollars in economic activity each year and creates more than 4,000 jobs. The Umass Dartmouth School of Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) is also located on the water in New Bedford. They engage in research in fishery science and management, as well as ocean modeling. Working together with SMAST, local fishermen continue to improve their sustainability and minimize their impact on the environment while fishing.
As Umass students we are all connected to this industry in some way. Whether we are mapping the ocean or simply eating a fresh fish dish, it does effect us. When eating seafood in October, try to be conscious of just how close we are to the action. Most of us do not take the time to think that the food we are eating is coming right out of our own back yard.