US: Record number of rebuilt fisheries

16 May 2012
Bering Sea snow crab has been fully rebuilt to healthy levels. Credit: NOAA

Bering Sea snow crab has been fully rebuilt to healthy levels. Credit: NOAA

NOAA’s Status of U.S. Fisheries report has shown that a record six fish populations were declared rebuilt to healthy levels in 2011, bringing the number of rebuilt US marine fish populations in the last 11 years to 27.

The report documents historic progress toward ending overfishing and rebuilding US nation’s fisheries, due to the commitment of fishermen, fishing communities, non-governmental organisations, scientists, and managers.

The report declares Bering Sea snow crab, Atlantic coast summer flounder, Gulf of Maine haddock, northern California coast Chinook salmon, Washington coast coho salmon, and Pacific coast widow rockfish fully rebuilt to healthy levels.

Eighty-six per cent of the populations examined for fishing activity (222 of 258) were not subject to overfishing, or not fished at too high a level, compared to 84% in 2010, and 79% of assessed populations (174 of 219) are not overfished, or were above levels that require a rebuilding plan, compared to 77% in 2010.

NOAA says that although it is sometimes assumed that a fish population is low or ‘overfished’ due to too much fishing, other factors also influence the health and abundance of fish populations, including environmental changes, disease, and degraded fish habitat.

NOAA studies predict that fully rebuilt fisheries are expected to add an estimated $31bn to the economy and an additional 500,000 jobs. Commercial and recreational fishing currently generates $183bn per year to the US economy and supports more than 1.5m full and part-time jobs.

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