Posts Tagged fisheries management

Sep 12 2013

Ray Hilborn on Magnuson: lost yield from fishing too hard is 3%, but from fishing too little is 48%

Seafood News
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [seafoodnews.com] Sept 12, 2013 – Ray Hilborn, Professor, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences University of Washington was one of the people who testified at the House Committee on Natural Resources Magnuson hearing this week. Ray makes the point that we have lost sight of the original goals of Magnuson, which were to achieve jobs and economic benefits from sustainable resources, as well as protecting those resources from over use. Accordingly, he suggests that too rigid an approach to fishery management focusing exclusively on overfishing has distorted the outcome, so that while we lose perhaps 3% of total yield to continued overfishing, we lose as much as 48% of achievable yield by not fishing enough. He calls for a rebalancing of these goals, so that we may have both sustainable fisheries, and the economic benefits that are acheivable from our resources.

Read the full testimony transcript here.

Sep 10 2013

In the U.S., Good News on Fisheries

Discovery News
Around the world, the status of fish and fisheries is grim indeed. Approximately 85 percent of global fish stocks are either over-exploited, fully-exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. But rigorous management efforts have resulted in some American fisheries making a comeback.

The new report by the National Research Council assessed 55 fisheries and found 10 that have been rebuilt and five that showed good progress toward rebuilding; only nine continue to experience overfishing. What about the rest? Eleven have not shown strong progress in rebuilding but are expected to rebuild if fishing levels remain reduced and a whopping 20 were not actually over-fished despite having been initially classified as such.

The report comes with a neat interactive online graphic to track the fate of fish populations in different regions over the years. By selecting particular species or geographic areas, users can watch, as for example, yelloweye rockfish becomes steadily overfished, as chinook salmon numbers – especially susceptible to changing environmental conditions – swing wildly back and forth, and the likes of lingcod, George’s Bank haddock, king mackerel and Bering Sea snow crab stage their marches toward recovery.

The report is fairly technical, so for a summary – and an explanation of what it means in practical terms for U.S. fish consumers – Discovery News turned to Chris Dorsett, Director of Ecosystem Conservation Programs for the Ocean Conservancy.

“If you look at a map of the United States and where overfishing is still occurring, it’s almost exclusively an east coast problem,” he points out. “And when I say east coast, I mean Gulf of Mexico as well. Where we have not seen success in terms of species recovering based on management actions, that could be due to climatic factors, which aren’t particularly good for productivity. It could be due to management regimes that aren’t particularly effective. But what exacerbates the issue is that, when you drive a population to an extremely low abundance level, environmental variability plays an even more meaningful role in the recovery of that population, so recovery is a little less predictable.”

As the classic case in point, Dorsett points to cod fisheries off Canada, which collapsed in the 1990s and subsequently saw catches slashed essentially to zero. Despite such drastic measures, neither the fish population nor the fishery has shown signs of recovery.

As the NRC report notes, however, there remains some variation: fishing pressure is still too high for some fish stocks, and others have not rebounded as quickly as plans projected. To a large extent, argues Dorsett, that’s a function of natural variability in fish populations and their environments, as well as differences in the ways fisheries have been managed over the years.

In general, though, the news remains positive, increasingly so, and is reflected in the choices available to consumers.

Read the full article here.

May 30 2011

Endangered species listing for Atlantic bluefin tuna not warranted

After an extensive scientific review, the NOAA announced last week that Atlantic bluefin tuna do not currently warrant species protection under the Endangered Species Act. 

The entire NOAA press release follows below:

After an extensive scientific review, NOAA announced today that Atlantic bluefin tuna currently do not warrant species protection under the Endangered Species Act.

NOAA has committed to revisit this decision by early 2013, when more information will be available about the effects of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, as well as a new stock assessment from the scientific arm of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the international body charged with the fish’s management and conservation.

NOAA is formally designating both the western Atlantic and eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks of bluefin tuna as “species of concern” under the Endangered Species Act. This places the species on a watchlist for concerns about its status and threats to the species.

“NOAA is concerned about the status of bluefin tuna, including the potential effects of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill on the western stock of Atlantic bluefin, which spawns in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We will revisit the status of the species in early 2013 when we will have a new stock assessment and information from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment of the oil spill. We will also take action in the interim if new information indicates the need for greater protection.”

NOAA’s status review, released with today’s decision and peer-reviewed by The Center for Independent Experts, indicates that based on the best available information and assuming  countries comply with the bluefin tuna fishing quotas established by ICCAT, both the western and eastern Atlantic stocks are not likely to become extinct.

The status review team also looked at the best available information on the potential effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill on the future abundance of the western stock of bluefin tuna and found that it did not substantially alter the results of the extinction risk analysis.  While the NOAA team found that the presently available information did not favor listing, it also recognized the need to continue to monitor the potential long-term effects of the spill on bluefin tuna and the overall ecosystem. New scientific information is expected in a 2012 bluefin tuna stock assessment and as part of the Natural Resources Damage Assessment of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill.

“Based on careful scientific review, we have decided the best way to ensure the long-term sustainability of bluefin tuna is through international cooperation and strong domestic fishery management,” said Eric Schwaab, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “The United States will continue to be a leader in advocating science-based quotas at ICCAT, full compliance with these quotas and other management measures to ensure the long-term viability of this and other important fish stocks.”

NOAA conducted the status review of Atlantic bluefin after determining on Sept. 21, 2010, that a petition for listing under the ESA from a national environmental organization warranted a scientific status review.

To read the status review report on Atlantic bluefin tuna, the federal register notice and other information on bluefin tuna, please go to: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2011/05/bluefin_tuna.html

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