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Success! US Fishing Becomes More Sustainable

Success! US Fishing Becomes More Sustainable

Responding in part to the strength of a wildly popular Care2 petition, the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association implemented restrictions to commercial and recreational fishing throughout the US, setting fishing limits for every species of fish it oversees. The NOAA regulates the fishing of 528 types of fish and with this kind of oversight, it is going to move American fishing into new frontiers of sustainability.

Caps on fishing different species are vitally important to maintaining fish stocks, explaining the wide base of support for this policy. Everyone from environmentalists and conservationists to people who just like to eat fish can get behind this — it promotes biodiversity while making sure that people will be able to enjoy fish for years to come. In the wake of news that the Northeastern cod population has collapsed by two thirds in the past three years and that all worldwide fisheries are expected to deplete by 2048, we needed drastic action.

This is, indeed, a major shift in policy, making the US the first country in the world to impose such comprehensive limits. It is also a rare, heartening example of bipartisanship, as the policy changes were initially proposed by George W. Bush and supported by members of both sides of the aisle. And perhaps most importantly, it shows the power of social media: even though powerful, monied interests stood to gain from loose regulation, concerned citizens — through mediums like Care2 petitions — let their voices be heard.

Though this is a huge success for sustainable fishing advocates, there’s still much work to be done to ensure fishing is done sustainably. Domestically, it is unlikely that government agents can police the seas alone, so they will rely on local activists to do their part to stop illegal overfishing. Internationally, no other country has regulations as comprehensive as those in the US, so hopefully others’ fishery managers will start to follow the lead of the NOAA. At the very least, now that these regulations are in place we can refocus on other pressing problems with the international fishing industry.

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Read more: , , ,

Photo from JoshBerglund19 via flickr.

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71 comments

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10:37AM PST on Dec 9, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

2:01PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Great!

9:29PM PST on Feb 10, 2012

love it... lets keep it up

3:42PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

The number of naiive people around here amazes me. Do you KNOW what the seal population is now, and what it was 20 or 30 years ago? What do you think all those seals are living on?

6:40AM PST on Feb 9, 2012

Another small victory - given the ecological impact. But an important one, i´m sure.

5:28AM PST on Feb 9, 2012

@ Bonnie C ...... are you kidding me??? Are you blaming the declining fish stocks on seals!!!!! I am so gobsmacked at your stupidity, I cannot respond in a rational way.

6:56PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

Good news!

6:46PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

Don't celebrate too soon. It would be far more effective to declare a few open seasons on the Atlantic seal population - THAT is where most of the fish are going. And surely you noticed the comment that foreign fishermen also take fish in our waters? So what little effect our prohibitions would have will be negated by these foreigners, who will use our absense to take MORE than they used to.

5:14PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

Though it is a step in the right direction, like she says, there is a lot more to be done. the fact that foreign fishing vessels poach our fish stocks all the time, and cannot be stopped, it seems. Plus, though the Bush Administration was "for" the regulations, it doesn't mean that Republicans now will stand against lobbyists petitioning for looser regulations and a diminishing of the power NOAA has over the fisheries. If you haven't noticed, they are trying to make the agencies that keep toxins and pollution out of our natural resources, impotent. But this is a step. I believe it is incumbent upon all of us to report trespassers, and hold them accountable, like the poachers of rhinos and elephants, and tigers and bears. Oh, my.

4:41PM PST on Feb 8, 2012

"Implemented restrictions" and "setting limits" ... what kind of oversight measures are in place, does it offer any legal, uncorrupt enforcement and penalites for offenders -- or will it just fade into ineffectiveness when no longer headline material, thus making way for the next cause? We're not that good and follow-through, have you noticed?

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