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The Bering Sea southern Tanner crab is one of the low-population stocks. (Photo: NOAA)

National fisheries rebuilding showing progress: report

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Friday, July 15, 2011, 23:10 (GMT + 9)

Three fisheries stocks from the Northeast – Georges Bank haddock, Atlantic pollock and spiny dogfish – have now been rebuilt to healthy levels, bringing to 21 the number of fisheries rebuilt nationwide since 2000, according to a report to Congress from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

“We are making great progress ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks around the nation,” Eric Schwaab, assistant National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administrator for NMFS said. “We are turning a corner as we see important fish stocks rebounding.”

NOAA’s Status of US Fisheries reports on the fishing activity and population level for fish stocks in the country. Scientists announced today that in 2010, 84 per cent of the stocks examined for fishing activity (213 of 253 stocks) were free from overfishing, or not fished at too high a level, and 77 per cent of the stocks with known population levels (159 of 207 stocks) were above the overfished level, which is too low to provide the maximum sustainable yield.

“Commercial and recreational fishing activities depend on healthy and abundant fish stocks and marine ecosystems to provide lasting jobs, food and recreational opportunities,” Schwaab said. “By working with the nation’s eight regional management fishery councils and commercial and recreational fishermen, we are making steady progress each year to fully rebuild overfished stocks.”



Beyond the three rebuilt northeastern stocks, there have been other positive changes since last year:

  • Four stocks have been removed from the low-population list in the Northeast: Gulf of Maine haddock, American plaice, Gulf of Maine cod and southern New England windowpane.
  • Two stocks have been removed from the list of stocks being fished at too high a level: Georges Bank yellowtail flounder and Southern Atlantic Coast black grouper.


Scientists examined more stocks than ever before in 2010, and findings on these stocks with a previously unknown status were mixed:

  •  Gulf of Mexico black grouper was found to be free from overfishing, and had a population above the low-population level.
  • Southern Atlantic Coast black grouper was found to have a population above the low-population level.
  • Pacific bluefin tuna was found to be fished at too high a level, though its population was above the low-population level.
  • Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank Atlantic wolffish was found to have a low population.

A handful of other stocks have been moved onto the overfishing and overfished lists this year: 

  • Added to the list of stocks experiencing fishing at too high a level have been Northwestern Atlantic witch flounder, Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank windowpane flounder and Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic windowpane flounder.
  • Added to the list of low-population stocks have been Northwestern Atlantic Coast witch flounder, Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank windowpane flounder, Georges Bank winter flounder, Southern Atlantic Coast red grouper, California Central Valley Sacramento (fall) chinook salmon and Bering Sea southern Tanner crab.


Scientists believe that one of the stocks added to the overfished list, the Tanner crab in Alaska, may have been affected by environmental factors.

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Photo Courtesy of FIS Member  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA/NMFS
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