New film ‘Counting Fish’ debuts on Harvest of the Sea Day, Nov. 22

New film by Don Cuddy screens at the Whaling Museum ahead of Seamen’s Bethel annual ‘Harvest of the Sea’ Day of Thanksgiving service, Nov. 22


NEW BEDFORD, Mass.  – A new film by Don Cuddy titled ‘Counting Fish’ will premiere on Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater, New Bedford Whaling Museum. The screening is part of Harvest of the Sea Sunday, the traditional service of thanksgiving at the Seamen’s Bethel at 3:00 p.m. immediately following the film. Both programs are free and open to the public.

New England fishermen are in trouble, with catch limits set so low that many boats remain tied to the dock. But the industry has little confidence in the NOAA survey that provides the raw data for the stock assessment. Accurately counting fish populations in the ocean is a daunting task, however, and everyone agrees on the need for better science. Kevin Stokesbury, a scientist at the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), the marine campus of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, may have a solution. By using underwater cameras to record fish passing through the open cod end of a net, SMAST survey tows can last for as long as two hours while allowing the fish to escape unharmed.

With very limited resources, Dr. Stokesbury and his team have been refining this technology on Georges Bank by conducting spring and fall surveys over the past three years; working in collaboration with the fishing industry, which generously donates the boat, the grub and the fuel.

Don Cuddy, program director for the Center for Sustainable Fisheries in New Bedford, joined the crew of the F/V Justice for the May 2015 survey and captured the experience on camera. Eight days at sea produced more than seven hours of video footage that has now been distilled into a fifty-minute film, called, appropriately enough, ‘Counting Fish.’

Following the screening, Dr. Stokesbury, who serves as chair of the SMAST’s Department of Fisheries Oceanography, will be available for a brief Q&A. "I am very happy that this film will bring more awareness of the work we are doing to help sustain a healthy fishery," he said.

Don Cuddy has been writing and filming in the Port of New Bedford for years and saw the need for greater awareness among the general public related to the issues facing the industry. "I believe this type of independent science offers fishermen the best hope of literally staying afloat in their chosen profession. It was a privilege to be invited aboard to record it. The film will allow others to appreciate what Kevin and his team are doing," he said.

Immediately following the Q&A, guests will be invited to walk next door to the Seamen’s Bethel for its traditional Harvest of Sea Service of Thanksgiving at 3:00 p.m., with special music by Ms. Caroline Blais. A display of seafood will be on the dais beneath the Bethel’s famous ship’s prow pulpit, adorning the chapel for the brief service. Refreshments will follow in the Salt Box, provided by the Ladies Branch of the New Bedford Port Society.

No reservations are required for either of the programs, which are being sponsored in part by the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the New Bedford Port Society as an opportunity to reflect upon the challenges of commercial fishing – a day which will bring into focus the city’s physical, spiritual and cultural roots as a maritime community.                                                                                            


Director of Marketing and Public Relations
New Bedford Whaling Museum


About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of whales and the history and culture of the South Coast. For more information visit

About the New Bedford Port Society
The New Bedford Port Society operates the nondenominational Seamen’s Bethel (1832) and the Mariners’ Home (1787). The Bethel was made famous as “The Whaleman’s Chapel” in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. For more information visit: