Washington, DC - October 13, 2016 - Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) finalized new policies that stand to jeopardize a decade of successful, science-based fisheries management in the United States.
NOAA officials have altered their guidance for critical aspects of fisheries management including setting science based catch limits, assessing the health and abundance of stocks, rebuilding vulnerable populations of fish and other issues key to ensuring sustainable fisheries. The National Standard 1 guidance is the set of rules that implemented the Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization of 2006, which was signed by President George W. Bush, and has been the management tool fishermen, managers, scientists and conservationists have used to successfully restore 30 fisheries that were once in severe decline.
“Unfortunately, the new rules weaken the foundations of U.S. sustainable fisheries management,” says Meredith Moore, director of the fish conservation program at Ocean Conservancy. “By allowing risky management decisions that leave stocks at low levels, we leave fish populations and fishing communities vulnerable. It will be vital for the next administration to ensure that NOAA better prioritizes conservation as healthy fisheries are one of our most important natural resources.”
These changes could put American fish stocks at risk of overfishing, undermine sustainable supplies of marketable fish, threaten jobs and coastal economies and could once again put in peril the health of our ocean.
The new rule changes management in the following key areas:
- Allows managers to leave vulnerable stocks at low levels instead of rebuilding them quickly.
- Increases the likelihood of overfishing our nation’s fish stocks.
- Allows managers to neglect management of stocks not yet in dire circumstances, which could return U.S. fisheries to an era of crisis driven management, rather than proactive polices that ensure healthy, sustainable fisheries.
- Allows continued bycatch of some of the nation’s most vulnerable stocks.By reversing course in these key areas, NOAA’s revised guidance threatens the progress that has been made restoring iconic American stocks and we are thus disheartened by this turn in policy.
“This new rule moves fisheries management backward at a crucial time when we should instead be building on our previous success and further modernizing the management of our fisheries,” said Moore. “The new rules fail to provide a path to full recovery for the many fish populations, or by new challenges such as rapidly changing ocean environments brought about by climate change. These new realities do require new management approaches, but ones that support fisheries instead of compromising them.”
Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit www.oceanconservancy.org