A new study of the sea floor on Georges Bank may compel fishery managers to dramatically re-evaluate the measures currently employed to regulate the fishing industry there. A submerged plateau warmed by the Gulf Stream, Georges Bank lies about 60 miles off Cape Cod. Its shallow waters, swept by nutrient-rich currents, provide rich feeding grounds for a wide variety of marine life, making it one of the world's most productive marine ecosystems. Fishermen have worked these grounds for 400 years, resulting today in the closure of large areas, some of them permanently, to protect fish habitat and stocks. However, the map used to assess the impact of fishing on Georges Bank was compiled using just 190 sample points taken from the entire expanse of the bank, an area totaling more than 25,000 square miles.
_"On average, that's 125 kilometers (72 miles) between points, and some samples date back as far as the time when guys were throwing lead weights over the side," said Bradley P. Harris, a research associate with UMass Dartmouth's School of Marine Science and Technology who carried out the new study.