NOAA reports indicate U.S. fisheries sustainable, robust economically

Published on
July 28, 2020

NOAA Fisheries on 28 July released an annual report, and gave a preview of a report slated for release later this year, that both indicate U.S. fisheries are robust and in many cases improving  – both in terms of sustainability and revenue.

NOAA Fisheries has released the 2019 Status of U.S. Fisheries Report, an annual publication that outlines the status of the country’s 461 managed stocks or “stock complexes” in the U.S., to showcase which stocks are overfishing, overfished, or have been rebuilt.

That report indicates that a record-low number of stocks in the U.S. are subject to overfishing: of the 321 stocks for which NOAA Fisheries can make a determination, 299 – or 93 percent – are not subject to overfishing. Stocks are considered subject to overfishing when a stock is being harvested at a rate that is too high.

In contrast, the number of overfished stocks – an indication that the population or size of the stock is too low – increased slightly. One stock was removed from the overfished list – Gulf of Maine yellowtail flounder – but four stocks were added. One stock, Pacific sardine/northern population, was added due to poor reproduction despite a closed fishery, another – Atlantic Coast bluefish – was added because of an increased understanding of fishing impacts. The other two – Gulf of Maine white hake, and George’s Bank winter flounder – were added to the list due to ongoing efforts to accurately estimate stock size.

Two stocks have also been considered rebuilt: American plaice and California cowcod. The cowcod represents the ninth recovered West Coast groundfish species, and bring the total number of species rebuilt since 2000 to 47.

"It's important we acknowledge the achievements in sustainable fisheries made in recent years by fishermen, industries, scientists, managers, and conservationists across our Nation. These updates are a testament to their outstanding work," U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said.

In addition to the positive signs for sustainability for U.S. fisheries, NOAA Fisheries gave a preview of a second report – the 2017 Fisheries Economics of the U.S. Report – indicating that the economic performance of U.S. fisheries is also trending positively.

That report found that the combined sales of commercial and recreational fishing generated USD 244 billion (EUR 208 billion) in annual sales, an 11 percent increase over 2016. That contributed USD 111 billion (EUR 94.6 billion) to the country’s gross domestic product, an increase of 8 percent over the previous year. That in turn supported 1.74 million jobs, which is an increase of 3.3 percent.  

The full economics report will be released later in the year.

Infographic courtesy of NOAA Fisheries

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