The Proof is in the Pudding…or Fish Stocks

Source: NOAA
       The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recently completed a study on fish stocks off of the coast of California.  NOAA found that not only was there an increase in hauls, but an increase in monetary value to the fishermen. Why the increase?  NOAA hypothesizes it was because of the catch limits that were implemented in 1996.  Why is this important?  The fact that fish stocks are rebuilding is not only important for the species of fish, but it is important economically.  California is one of five states that produced the greatest number of occupations from fishing, according to NOAA.  According to the National Ocean Economics Program, overall fishing has created 1.7 million jobs across the United States.  In order to keep fishing communities vibrant, the oceans must be full of viable fish stocks. 
       Even more promising news is that California scientists have seen the average physical size of several key species increase since the creation of the marine protected areas in California.  Marine protected areas create a plethora of habitats that are necessary for fish growth and biodiversity.
       Although there were certain restrictions on fishing to get fish stocks to this point, these findings can show a glimmer of hope.  While there have been some fishermen put out of business because of fishing restrictions, there were fisheries that were in danger before catch limits were implemented. Conversations must continue on fisheries management in order to create the best solutions to bring back important species of fish.
Source: White House
       Congress is doing just that with the re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA).  During March, Congress held a hearing on the MSA where they invited witnesses from different sectors of the fishery, from fishing associations,fishermen, and fish processors.  All were in agreement that the MSA is a good tool for fishery management, but some refining must be done to  include the input and opinions of all user groups. 
       We should think to the future and how to best manage fisheries resources to provide a future of food and jobs for the United States.  Marine Conservation Institutewill continue to keep you updated on new information as it pertains to marine conservation issues in our oceans and in Congress.  Also, please tell us what your thoughts are about the MSA and how important the rebuilding of fish stocks is to you!

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