NOAA Outlines Annual Catch Limits to End Overfishing
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday outlined a plan to establish annual catch limits to help restore federally managed marine fish stocks.
Annual catch limits are required by the 2007 amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The act requires that harvest limits do not exceed the scientific recommendations made by the regional fishery management councils' scientific committees.
"Annual catch limits for fish stocks will help the nation meet the call by the president and Congress to end overfishing," says Jim Balsiger, NOAA acting assistant administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. "They will help sustain and recover stocks that provide the nation with valuable seafood and recreational opportunities, as well as benefits to the ocean environment."
The guidelines published in the Federal Register yesterday propose a system of catch limits and targets for each stock to prevent overfishing. The system would account for scientific uncertainty in estimating catch limits for a stock, and include accountability measures to prevent annual catch limits from being exceeded, and to address such a situation quickly if it does occur.
Annual catch limits will be required for all U.S. commercial and recreational fisheries subject to overfishing by 2010, and all other stocks by 2011. NOAA hopes to issue final guidelines on annual catch limits by the end of 2008.
"Ending overfishing on these stocks and preventing overfishing from occurring on others is critical to maintaining and rebuilding our valuable fisheries resources," says Balsiger. "The economic, recreational and ecological stakes are high."