Wars were waged over it, settlers sailed the Atlantic in search of it, and the American Revolution was funded by it. 

Cod.

A species once so abundant in the waters off New England that fishermen used to say they could walk across the ocean on the backs of these plentiful fish.

Then in the summer of 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the steepest drop in cod population’s history. Officials decided it was time for drastic action. 

On Nov. 10, 2014, all cod fishing was virtually banned throughout the region.

Infuriated fishermen challenged the findings and accused the government of trying to destroy their livelihood. Environmental activists feared the government’s action had come too late to save the cod. So began a battle for a way of life that has endured for centuries.