Feb 10 2011

Dr. Ray Hilborn: ‘The end of overfishing,’ what does it mean?

Ray Hilborn

Dr. Ray Hilborn examines the end of overfishing in the United States. He addresses what fisheries managers can control and what is in the realm of nature, beyond the reach of human management.

(SEAFOOD.COM NEWS) – Feb 7, 2011 – The following article from Ray Hilborn is in response to NMFS chief scientist Steve Murawski’s widely reported comments last month that US overfishing as ended. This is part of a continuing series of occasional articles on fisheries and conservation topics by Ray Hilborn, Professor at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, prepared for Seafood.com News.

Overfishing has ended in the U. S. said Professor Steve Murawski, former chief fishery scientist for NOAA on January 8th 2011.

Could this possibly be true?

With many fish stocks still at low abundance, subject to rebuilding plans and listed as overfished, how could he argue that overfishing has ended?

To understand the issue we first must begin with the distinction between “overfished” and “overfishing.” Overfished is a term used when the abundance of the stock is low enough that its sustainable yield is significantly reduced. Overfishing is when the percentage harvested is higher than required to provide long term maximum sustainable yield. So “overfished” is about abundance and “overfishing” is about the percentage we harvest.

What Murawski said is that the percentage harvested for all U. S. federally managed fish stocks is now within the range that would produce maximum sustainable yield.

We have stopped fishing too hard; but many fish stocks remain at low abundance.

Read the rest of the story on SavingSeaFood.org.

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