Schwaab: Reason for optimism

National Marine Fisheries Service Chief Eric Schwaab addressed a packed meeting room at the International Boston Seafood Show on Monday morning to trumpet recent successes of U.S. fishery management officials and to reaffirm the agency’s commitment to sustainable fisheries and vibrant fishing communities.

“2010 was a year when we realized an important moment in our quest to end overfishing in U.S. fisheries,” said Schwaab. “We’re here to speak with you about how we can do a better job of telling the story of U.S. fisheries, the management successes achieved, the environmental gains reached and the business opportunity that our current management creates if we take full advantage of the moment.”

Schwaab said it was important for NMFS to emphasize that the nation’s fisheries are “actively being monitored, managed and enforced to ensure their sustained use.” It was important to speak in Boston, a city that has “been at the heart of the nation’s seafood trade since before our country’s founding.”

This year marks a major milestone for NMFS, as it was the deadline to put catch limits and accountability measures for all overfished or depleted U.S. fisheries. On that front, Schwaab says NMFS has been successful.

“We are making significant progress in ending overfishing and we are actively rebuilding the fish stocks on which the seafood-consuming public depends,” said Schwaab.

Schwaab added that one of the more controversial measures that NMFS has employed — sector management and catch shares for East Coast fisheries — will succeed.

“Some encouraging stories that demonstrate this progress and how it is paying off for people, jobs, communities and ecosystems involve some of the most iconic and popular species of fish,” Schwaab said. “Over the next few years, we are confident the number of these good stories will continue to increase as we rebuild fish stocks. The good news is, when the 2011 groundfish season opens this May, fishermen will have higher catch levels for 12 of the 20 groundfish stocks. This is due to significant sacrifices of fishermen, strong science and strong regulations.”


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