U.S. Fisheries Removes 7 Stocks from Overfishing List

On June 27, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that seven stocks have been removed from the overfishing list and no new stocks were added in its annual report to Congress.

The report tracks both population levels and harvest rates for species caught in federal waters between 3 and 200 miles off U.S. coasts. This year's report indicates that seven stocks have been removed from the overfishing list, four stocks have increased population levels and are no longer overfished, and three stocks are now listed as fully "rebuilt."

"This is great news for the American people and for the scientists who devote their lives to the study of fish populations," said Jim Balsiger, acting assistant administrator for the Fisheries Service. "Ending overfishing on these stocks and preventing overfishing from occurring on others is critical to maintaining and rebuilding our valuable fisheries resources, and this year we took a giant step forward in this regard."

NOAA's Fisheries Service and the eight regional fishery management councils took significant steps toward ending "overfishing" -- when too many fish in a species are caught in a year -- and rebuilding stocks in 2007.

Among the report's findings:

• 244 stocks and stock complexes were reviewed for their overfishing status.

• 203 (83 percent) are not subject to overfishing, while 41 (17 percent) are.

• 190 stocks and stock complexes were reviewed for their overfished status. 145 (76 percent) are not overfished, while 45 (24 percent) are. A stock or complex is considered to be overfished when its population numbers fall below a certain level.

• Four complexes are no longer overfished.

• Three complexes have fully rebuilt to target levels.

"No new stocks were subject to overfishing in 2007, which is very good news as well," Balsiger said. "The economic, recreational, and ecological stakes for sustaining these resources are incredibly high."

"NOAA Fisheries scientists are learning more all the time about how to help fish populations," he added. "Our agency is working hard to end overfishing by 2010, as required by the Magnuson Stevens [Fishery Conservation and Management] Act. Continued and new sustainable management practices such as annual catch limits are one of the tools we are using."

NOAA recently proposed guidelines to establish catch limits and targets for each stock to prevent overfishing. The proposed guidelines may be viewed online at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/msa2007/. Public comments on the proposed revisions will be accepted through Sept. 8.

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