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New record: Number of overfished stocks in the U.S. reaches all time low
Friday, May 18, 2018

New record: Number of overfished stocks in the U.S. reaches all time low

The number of domestic fish stocks listed as overfished has reached an all-time low, with three species of West Coast rockfish rebuilt to sustainable levels, according to the 2017 Status of U.S. Fisheries report to Congress.
The Status of Stocks report provides an annual update on the status of U.S. marine fisheries. Working waterfronts such as this one in Sitka, Alaska are home to commercial fishing vessels.
The number of stocks on the overfishing list also remained near all-time lows, an encouraging indicator that the U.S. fishery management system is achieving its long-term sustainability goals.

“Ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks provides two key benefits for the American people,” said Chris Oliver, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “First, it strengthens the value of U.S. fisheries’ contribution to the economy, which in 2015 exceeded $208 billion dollars. Second, it supports the communities and marine ecosystems that depend on healthy fisheries.”

Three West Coast stocks were rebuilt to target levels in 2017, bringing the total number of rebuilt U.S. marine fish stocks to 44 since 2000:

Bocaccio
Darkblotched rockfish
Pacific ocean perch
The overfishing list at the end of 2017 included 30 stocks, and the overfished list included 35 stocks. Overall, 91 percent of U.S marine fish stocks are not subject to overfishing and 87 percent are not overfished. A stock is on the overfishing list when the harvest rate — a direct result of fishing activities — 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.

Six stocks were removed from the overfishing list:

Sailfish — Western Atlantic
Blue king crab — Pribilof Islands
Puerto Rico Wrasses Complex
Coho salmon — Puget Sound: Hood Canal
Winter flounder — Georges Bank
Witch flounder — Northwestern Atlantic Coast (due to significant scientific uncertainty, the status of this stock cannot be determined following a 2017 assessment)
Six stocks came off the overfished list:

Yelloweye rockfish — Pacific Coast
Winter flounder — Georges Bank
Gray triggerfish — Gulf of Mexico
Red snapper — Gulf of Mexico
Pacific ocean perch — Pacific Coast
Bluefin tuna – Western Atlantic (due to significant scientific uncertainty, the status of this stock cannot be determined following a 2017 assessment)
“Rebuilding stocks to fully utilize our fisheries is one way NOAA can reduce our nation’s seafood deficit,” said Oliver. “We look forward to exploring innovative approaches to fisheries management and working with our partners to ensure America’s fisheries remain the world’s most sustainable.”


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