Off the Hook

Writing for Atlantic Coast Fishery News was truly an eye opening experience. It was creatively challenging and drew on the breadth of my academic skills. I contributed a few different pieces to the newspaper every month. My primary responsibilities were reporting on changes in commercial fishing law across the Atlantic in the Monthly Regulatory Updates section and on relevant news from conservation and fishing organizations. The true challenge in this piece was trying to be objective on matters concerning environmental damage. This section alone familiarized me with the structure and workings of Fisheries Councils, and exposed me to a variety of management methods and efforts. Researching the histories of the Fishery Management Plans strengthened my understanding of how the rules develop and how they might evolve in the future.

I also contributed a piece called Landings each month. Writing this piece made me more familiar with Catch Reports, reports that estimate how many of each species of fish are caught. I developed this piece over time to be about a single species with significant regulatory changes or oversights occurring, and potentially attributing over/underfishing to these issues.

My best day with the internship landed me in Gloucester, Massachusetts, interviewing fishermen. I had written a report about the Catch Share program and groundfish, explaining the theory behind it as taught to Environmental and Natural Resource Economics students. I was met with criticism from a number of industry workers, one of whom asked to talk more. I agreed, and there I was sharing chowder with a couple of men with more years on the water each than I had been alive. I was sympathetic to their plight and their arguments against the program. That day I realized two things about the industry. First, it was unforgiving and thankless to its workers at sea. Second, those that administered the law were often in violation of it while doing so. Catch Shares had fallen short of Magnuson-Stevens National Standard 8, which aims to protect fishing communities from “adverse economic impacts” among other language. I had been for Catch Shares 100% up until that point based on the theory behind it, but now I see flaws in the administration of the program.

Science communication is a difficult but rewarding discipline. I would like to think that my writing reached someone, and taught someone something previously unknown. I gained more than just factual knowledge; I learned to integrate the knowledge I had gained throughout my somewhat unconventional undergraduate years.


by Evan Connolly ’14

Environmental and Natural Resource Economics Major

May 10th, 2014