NOAA: ‘Great progress’ toward ending overfishing

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
July 13, 2011

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service on Thursday released its annual report card, called the “Status of U.S. Fisheries.” Issued annually since 1997, the report summarizes the best available science for the 528 federally managed fish stocks.

Of the 253 stocks and multi-species groupings known as complexes NOAA scientists reviewed for “overfishing” status in 2010, 213 stocks, or 84 percent, were not subject to overfishing, compared to 85 percent, or 212 out of 251 stocks, in 2009.

Of the 207 stocks and complexes reviewed for “overfished” status in 2010, 159 stocks, or 77 percent, were not overfished, the same as in 2009 when 157 out of 203 stocks (77 percent) were not overfished.

“Overfishing” means the catch is above the target set in the fishery’s management plan, while “overfished” factors in a safety margin ensuring the stock is able to recover.

Eric Schwaab, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service, said the report’s result show that the country’s fisheries management system is working.

“We are making great progress ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks around the nation,” he said. “We are turning a corner as we see important fish stocks rebounding.”

NOAA’s Fisheries Service also announced that three Northeast fish stocks — Georges Bank haddock, Atlantic pollock and spiny dogfish — have now been rebuilt to healthy levels, bringing to 21 the number of stocks that have been rebuilt nationwide since 2000.

Four stocks were removed from the low-population list, all from the Northeast: Gulf of Maine haddock, Gulf of Maine cod, American plaice and southern New England windowpane. Two stocks were removed from the list of stocks being fished at too high a level: Georges Bank yellowtail flounder and Southern Atlantic Coast black grouper.

However, a handful of stocks were moved onto the overfishing and overfished lists this year. 

Added to the list of stocks experiencing fishing at too high a level were Northwestern Atlantic witch flounder, Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank windowpane flounder and Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic windowpane flounder. Added to the list of low-population stocks were Northwestern Atlantic Coast witch flounder, Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank windowpane flounder, Georges Bank winter flounder, Southern Atlantic Coast red grouper, California Central Valley Sacramento (fall) chinook salmon, and Bering Sea southern Tanner crab.

“This report is more evidence that affordable, healthy imported seafood coupled with a popular, iconic domestic catch will help feed America and grow the economy, at a time when health experts report families need to more than double the amount of seafood we eat,” said John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute.

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