Almost everyone has heard about the depressing situation in many areas of the country where fish populations have been seriously depleted because of chronic overfishing – catching fish faster than they can replace themselves.
Well here’s some good news, US fisheries are now on the road to recovery with several fish populations already showing significant increases and this is just the start.
The Marine Fish Conservation Network has just released a new report, “Taking Stock 2011” an update on efforts to end overfishing in U.S. fisheries
35 years ago we passed our first comprehensive federal fisheries law, the Magnuson Act. This new law created our 200 mile (limit) exclusive economic zone (EEZ), established our regional fishery management councils and set the stage to eliminate foreign fishing boats in our federal waters.
What happened over the next few years was that we basically replaced foreign overfishing with domestic overfishing, which in hindsight proved to be even harder to get under control. All that changed when the Magnuson Act was reauthorized in 2007 turning our original law’s focus from expand and exploit US fisheries to one where the conservation of fish populations became the primary focus.
One of the most significant changes was to mandate that all regional fishery management councils set annual catch limits at levels not to exceed the scientific advise and also to add management measures to ensure that those limits were not exceeded.
It’s working! We’ve seen increased populations of haddock and pollock in New England and this year our fishing fleet will be allowed to increase their catch. We’ve also seen increases in both fish populations and increased catch in the Mid-Atlantic summer flounder fishery, the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery and for ling cod on our Pacific coast just to mention a few. We still have a ways to go until all overfishing has ended in US waters however we’re on the right track and making progress. That’s why I can say, A Bright Fishy Future is Looking Good.
Note: Marine Fish Conservation Network (MFCN) is a coalition of almost 200 national and regional environmental organizations, commercial and recreational fishing groups, aquariums, and marine science groups dedicated to achieving healthy oceans and productive fisheries. Greenpeace was one of the founding members of the MFCN and continues it’s active participation with the MFCN. I am currently on the MFCN’s Board of Directors and one of the co-chairs of the MFCN. You can read more about these issues and the advocacy lead by the MFCN to achieve this good news at: www.conservefish.org.