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 »
Credit: brockamer flickr stream
UPDATED (September 28, 2012): Like Dr. Seuss says “Say! What a lot of fish there are.” But while there are many fish in the sea, there used to be more! A new study in the journal Science says global fisheries are in decline, but recovery is possible with the right management tools. For the first time, researchers spearheaded by California Environmental Associates took a good look at the world’s nearly 10,000 fishing areas. Only 20% of these areas are managed, leaving the rest with no management or oversight. Researchers suggest that with the right management tools, fisheries currently in decline could reach sustainable levels in only a few short years. This could increase the amount of fish in the ocean by 56%. Dr. Seuss would surely have been proud to protect his old fish and new fish.
ORIGINAL POST (September 20, 2012): US seafood landings have reached a 17-year high, according to a NOAA’s fisheries report that provides a snapshot of the amount of fish brought back to the docks in 2011. Higher fish landings show the Nation’s fisheries conservation and management law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) is working to end overfishing and restore depleted fish populations. This progress means more opportunities for families to enjoy fishing as recreation and fresh seafood, and greater prosperity for the fishing industry.
This encouraging report shows success in fisheries management through MSA is attributed to addressing the problem of overfishing. But, we can’t afford to stop now. NOAA’s report says “U.S. fishermen and businesses have played a critical role in this monumental achievement and the stewardship practices that have come to define U.S. fisheries.” Working together to successfully implement MSA is creating sustainable fisheries, greater economic returns and positioning the U.S. system as a global model.
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I don’t like to see red on a map. It usually means something bad: a hurricane warning, the decline of Arctic sea ice, or as this map shows, the amount of overfishing in 1950 and 2006. Did you click on that overfishing link and check it out? Pretty red right?
Overfishing is bad for fishermen who want to enjoy fishing today, tomorrow, and years from now. Without stable fish populations, there will be shorter or nonexistent fishing seasons – a huge blow to recreational and commercial fishing and the jobs/industry they support. If we don’t end overfishing, then, like Washington Post reporter Brad Plumer says, it’ll be “lumpy jellyfish sandwiches for everyone.”
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