A cod that will be auctioned off is held by Codie Small, on Oct. 29, 2015, at the Portland Fish Exchange in Portland, Maine. New data from the federal government shows that the Atlantic cod fishery had the worst year in its centuries-long history in 2021. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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In my brief life I have seen many species disappear from these New England waters, or else be depleted, or else disappear entirely: the conch, the soft shell clam, the hard shell clam, the periwinkle, the horseshoe crab, the rock crab, the lobster, the yellowtail flounder, the winter flounder, the codfish, the halibut, the oyster, the edible mussel, the bluefish, the haddock, the striper, the ling eel, the squeteague, the tautog, the swordfish, the mackerel, the smelt, the herring.

And with the depletion or disappearance of all these species went the men and women in foul weather gear who used to make a living harvesting them. “When,” as the old song goes, “will they ever learn?” The answer is “Never.” And you know why? Because no one cares about fishermen, not the suits in Washington, not the suits in the Maritimes, nor the men in Boston, or Augusta, or Portland, or Gloucester, or Providence, or New York City.

William J. Murphy