The arrest of Carlos Rafael in New Bedford sends a stark message to NOAA, our Congressional delegation and everyone who cares about the future of fishing: It is time to make the full-fleet monitoring of commercial fishing boats a priority so we know what is happening on our oceans.

Currently NOAA has no monitors aboard boats at a time when the New England cod fishery is in the midst of an historic collapse. That means right now we do not know what fishermen are catching and selling, or throwing back into the sea. The switch to more cost effective electronic monitoring would not only end the widespread distrust of NOAA’s scientific assessments, but it would increase confidence among fishermen that everyone is playing by the same rules.

Funding is available now to get electronic monitoring up and running. It’s imperative that scientists, fishermen and regulators know what is happening at sea in this era of climate change, and that starts with full-fleet electronic monitoring.

Joshua Wiersma, Ph.D,

Northeast Fisheries Manager, Environmental Defense Fund

Boston