US makes continued progress on fish stock sustainability

21 Apr 2016
The canary rockfish - no longer overfished according to the NOAA

The canary rockfish - no longer overfished according to the NOAA

The number of US domestic fish stocks listed as overfished or subject to overfishing remain near all-time lows, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries report to Congress.

The 2015 Status of US Fisheries report shows that the number of rebuilt stocks has risen to 39 since 2000, highlighting the United States’ continued progress towards managing fish stocks sustainably.

Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries, commented: “It’s fitting that this report aligns with the 40 anniversary of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.”

“Magnuson-Stevens provided the dynamic, science-based management process that is proving successful year after year at keeping U.S. fisheries among the world’s most sustainable and resilient. This year’s report highlights the act’s continued success,” she added.

A stock is on the overfishing list when the annual catch rate is too high. A stock is on the overfished list when the population size of a stock is too low, whether because of fishing or other causes, such as environmental changes.

In 2015, eight stocks came off the overfishing list:

  • Greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Grey triggerfish in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Hogfish in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico
  • Thorny skate in the Gulf of Maine
  • Winter skate in Georges Bank/Southern New England
  • Windowpane flounder in the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank
  • Puerto Rico scups and porgies complex (similar species that occur in the same area)
  • Puerto Rico wrasses complex

In addition, two stocks are no longer listed as overfished - blueline tilefish in the South Atlantic and canary rockfish along the Pacific Coast.

The report also found that two fish stocks - canary rockfish and petrale sole, both on the Pacific Coast - were rebuilt to target levels in 2015.

“This rebuilding success demonstrates the importance of the scientific monitoring and responsive management approach Congress built in to the Magnuson-Stevens Act,” said Ms Sobeck.

“It also shows that managing fisheries to sustainable levels in an ever-changing environment is an ongoing process of science informing management,” she concluded.

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