Another crucial U.S. fish stock is rebuilt, reinforcing the importance of a strong Magnuson-Stevens Act
Earlier this week federal managers of West Coast U.S. fish stocks found that canary rockfish is rebuilt. This is great news for fishermen, seafood consumers, and conservationists, as it means a healthy population that puts more fresh seafood on American plates and supports a stronger ocean ecosystem. Canary rockfish is important in its own right as a species, but this finding allows for increased fishing of other fish populations that swim alongside it – canary is common as bycatch, or non-targeted species that also get caught in fishing gear, and increased catch levels will enable greater fishing opportunities of other species.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council, the federal group that co-manages our nation’s fisheries off of Washington, Oregon, and California approved the analysis done by NOAA Fisheries today, starting what will most likely be a revision of catch limits, and an official update to the “Status of Stocks,” NOAA Fisheries’ official score-keeping tabulation of stocks nationally.
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Fish lovers, rejoice! Last week, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released record breaking news, showing yet again, that the Magnuson-Stevens Act is working. In its 2014 Status of Stocks report, NMFS reported that overfishing and overfished numbers are at an all-time low, and the number of rebuilt fish stocks has grown to 37!
Since 2007, the percentage of stocks that are facing overfishing, or that are already overfished, has decreased—even though fishing is increasing. This points to positive rebuilding progress for our nation’s fisheries. It is clear that sound science and managing the long term future of our fisheries is working for America’s fish stocks as well as for the country’s economy.
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While we may have a new Congress, they are still fishing for the same trouble. Despite hearing from more than 31,000 Ocean Conservancy members to throw the bill back, Representative Don Young (R-AK) reintroduced the same legislation attempting to weaken our federal fisheries law that former Representative Doc Hastings was pushing last year.
Last week, the House of Representatives continued its attempts to weaken our nation’s federal fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Our nation’s fisheries have made remarkable progress ending overfishing and rebuilding fish populations under this law, and we cannot afford to reverse course. Weakening the Magnuson-Stevens Act would harm the ocean environment and threaten the long-term sustainability of coastal fishing communities, businesses, and jobs. Weakening the Magnuson-Stevens Act is something that we simply cannot afford.
This bill is a step back for America’s fisheries, fishermen and coastal communities. Instead of gutting our nation’s fishery conservation safeguards, we should be strengthening the Magnuson-Stevens Act to support healthy, productive fisheries and fishing communities.
© Wesley Hitt / Alamy
We’ve made incredible progress in reversing overfishing. This has been good for both the environment and jobs in fishing. Through smart fishery legislation, we’ve been able to bring back fish populations that were crashing due to years of overfishing.
But all of our progress is about to be destroyed! In the House of Representatives, Rep. Hastings (R-WA) is working to reverse the very legislation that has brought our ocean and fishermen such success. Rep. Hastings is trying to pass legislation that would create a new law that would allow overfishing and would eliminate deadlines to rebuild fish populations.
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“Healthy oceans and well-managed fisheries improve coastal economies, enhance recreational fishing opportunities and provide fresh, local seafood to consumers.”
Hard to argue with that logic, right? We need well-managed fisheries to support millions of American jobs, and a healthy ocean environment. We have legislation in the United States, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) that does an excellent job of managing our fisheries for people and the environment. This is why it’s surprising that there are some members of Congress who are trying to roll back key components of the MSA. Two former Assistant Administrators in charge of Fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) took to Roll Call this week to argue that the MSA needs to remain strong. It’s hard to argue with their logic. Dr. Hogarth served under President Bush from 2001 – 2007. Mr. Schwaab held the same position under President Obama from 2010 – 2012.
Read their full article here.
Photo: Sara Thomas
In elementary school, we learned through basic math that 1 + 1 = 2 and 2 x 2 = 4. As we grew up, math became more complicated with different variables and formulas, but we always knew that 1 + 1 = 2 and 2 x 2 = 4. Fisheries math is not all that different.
Each year, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration use fishery math and science to determine how many fish can be removed from fisheries in a sustainable manner, and the number of fish that can be removed is called the annual catch limit (ACL). If species fall below a level that is sustainable, managers put in a rebuilding plan – a roadmap to rebuild the stock to a healthy level.
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Red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) are one of the Gulf of Mexico’s signature fish. They are extremely popular among recreational fishermen and a prized offering at restaurants and seafood markets, as well as a top predator in the Gulf ecosystem. Recently there has been a great deal of debate about the health and management of this important fish. Ocean Conservancy, along with Pew Charitable Trusts, has released a report about the law that is saving American fisheries, including red snapper. Here are few handy facts about this iconic fish:
- Red snapper can grow to about 40 inches, weigh up to 50 pounds and live more than 50 years.
- Red snapper begin to reproduce when they are about two years old, spawning from May to October along rocky ledges or coral reefs.
- Fertilized eggs float on the surface and hatch within a day. Only a month later, the young fish settle out of the water column in shallow waters, and as they get older, they move to structured habitat where they will mature and eventually move to the deeper waters of the Gulf. Continue reading »