Where Have All the Fish Gone? | Conservation Law Foundation

Where Have All the Fish Gone?

Peter Wellenberger

As I travel around the Seacoast, it is such a pleasure to talk with people who share my love for Great Bay.  Recently, I made a presentation to the Durham Garden Club – a group that recognizes the importance of clean water – and ran into an old friend who cares deeply about the health of the estuary.

Dennis related his own experiences as a scuba diver and the changes he has witnessed beneath the surface in our coastal waters. I was so moved by his comments, that I asked him to write a letter to the local papers. His letter appears in both the Portsmouth Herald and Foster’s Daily Democrat, and I urge you to read it. As you’ll see, Dennis poses the question – based on his personal observations as a scuba diver – “Where have all the fish gone?” He notes significant and troubling changes, including “a huge decline in fish populations along our coast” in recent years, and “marked reductions” in critical habitat in the Great Bay estuary rendering it “largely inhospitable for fish to spawn.”

The changes Dennis describes are not easily evident viewing Great Bay from the shoreline, which is what makes his observations so important – observations that confirm the urgent need to reduce pollution in the Great Bay estuary before it’s too late.

As Dennis concludes:

“These changes negatively impact both the sport and commercial fishing industries and the recreational value of the Great Bay estuary and of our coast. We need to require that all of the municipalities upgrade their sewage treatment facilities to reduce nitrogen pollution before it is too late. We have an environmental catastrophe in the making.”

Again, I urge you to take a look at Dennis’s excellent letter as well as his underwater photography presented in the above slide show, as it provides a view of the Great Bay estuary that is largely invisible to so many of us.

For more information about the Great Bay-Piscataqua Waterkeeper and my work to protect the Great Bay estuary, visit: https://www.clf.org/great-bay-waterkeeper/. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.


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