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New England fisheries have a long history and tradition. Cod in these waters were once so abundant they were said to practically jump out of the water and into fishing boats. Unfortunately, increased demand and advances in technology that make it easier to catch fish have led to an unsustainable industry. Fish stocks in many areas of the New England coast and offshore waters have been reduced and depleted, leading to closures of fishing grounds and other necessary measures to conserve wild fish populations.

Yet fishing continues to be an important part of our society today. An estimated 1.7 million people in the United States are employed in the commercial and recreational fishing industries, which contributes billions of dollars to our economy. Locally, lobsters, scallops, crabs, and fish remain a popular choice of cuisine, supporting the many fishers and seafood establishments in the area and attracting tourists.

Beyond the waters off New England, many other areas nationally and globally are experiencing declines in fishery production due to overfishing, pollution, overuse, and climate change. Mystic Aquarium is involved with many national and international efforts to develop sustainable fisheries worldwide.

So how do we balance protecting our oceans and their fish stocks while also continuing to support peoples’ livelihoods and our economy? That’s a question that Mystic Aquarium is committed to answering. Through our work on policy initiatives, research on fisheries and food webs, and education and outreach, we seek to balance human interests with protecting our natural resources with sustainable, practical solutions.

We seek to balance human interests with protecting our natural resources through sustainable, practical solutions.

Our policy and management initiatives

  • Providing scientific expertise to inform the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), the primary law that governs marine fisheries management in U.S. federal waters. This included drafting new language and the proposal of two new amendments, the Forage Fish Conservation Act and Climate Ready Fisheries Act, both of which have been presented to Congress for consideration.
  • Providing scientific expertise to the New England Fisheries Management Council (a regional initiative) by serving on the Habitat Plan Development Team. This team addresses approaches to managing essential fish habitat (Deep Sea Coral Amendment/Habitat Amendment 2/other Closed Area management issues) as well as on the Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management Plan Development Team.
  • Serving in the international Pool of Experts for the United Nations (UN) and authoring sections of both World Ocean Assessment 1 and 2 and speaking in multiple forums at the UN on deep-sea biodiversity.
  • Advising Regional Fisheries Management Organizations and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on high seas fisheries, conservation, and biodiversity issues.

Mystic Aquarium Fisheries Research

Our Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) research serves as a tool to sustain fisheries as well as conserve biodiversity. We apply the knowledge gained from our research to advise fisheries policy and management, both locally and worldwide.

Learn more about MPAs

What else are we doing?

Mystic Aquarium’s core values – respect for animals, guests, staff, and community; excellence in research, education, and conservation; and promotion of conservation and awareness of our ocean planet through all we do, are the driving force for our conservation and sustainability initiatives. For Mystic Aquarium, this starts right here at home! All the seafood we provide to the animals at Mystic Aquarium is not only restaurant quality but is also sustainably sourced!