A Historic Milestone for America’s Ocean Fish


Note: This is a guest post from Lee Crockett, Director of Federal Fisheries Policy at the Pew Environment Group.

I recently wrote about some good news from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service regarding improvements in the health of U.S. ocean fish populations. In a little publicized but very important milestone, NOAA fisheries and the regional fishery management councils have completed a task set out by Congress in 2006: establishing enforceable, science-based annual catch limits (ACLs) that end and prevent overfishing. Perhaps fittingly, Alaska — a national model for science-based fisheries management and healthy, profitable fisheries — just capped this federal effort to end overfishing by officially amending its salmon fishery management plan.

Thanks to decades of bipartisan cooperation, we have one of the strongest fisheries management systems in the world. Over the years, presidents and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, including President Gerald Ford and Sen. Warren Magnuson (D-WA) in 1976; President Bill Clinton, Rep. Gerry Studds (D-MA), and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), in 1996; and President George W. Bush and Sen. Stevens in 2006, set aside partisan differences and came together to strengthen our nation’s ocean fishing law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). Thanks to their hard work, we now have measures in place to rebuild depleted ocean fish populations; to ensure that science, not politics, drives management decisions; and to end and prevent overfishing through ACLs.

Though we still have much work to do, this most recent accomplishment in Alaska is an important milestone in our efforts to secure profitable fisheries and healthy oceans. Around the country, we have examples of fish populations that are recovering thanks to the MSA’s conservation requirements, including Gulf red snapper and mid-Atlantic summer flounder (follow the links to see recipes for these species from celebrity chefs).

The U.S. fishery management system is one of the best in the world and science-based catch limits are an important cornerstone of it. However, we need to make sure that our fisheries research and science remain top-notch. New legislation, including the Fisheries Investment Act and congressional appropriations for science and management, are critical to maintain this momentum. Equally important, we should not weaken the conservation mandates of the MSA.

View photos of species that have benefited from strong annual catch limits:


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Photo Credit: iStockPhoto


Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago



Joyce B.
Joyce Berube5 years ago

This is an atrocity !! PG&E is seeking approval to Sound Blast our CA Pacific Coast and kill off Marine life to what extent is unknown. We need Comments and pleas sent in to the various Links/addresses within this article.
We need all of your help Now. Diablo Nuclear is built to w/stand a 7.5 tremor. That is already known. Please help Stop This..hearings held Sept. 20 and Oct. 10 th. Make a Statement Now.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

good news

John McDonald
John McDonald5 years ago

I must agree with Nigel, robust and healthy fish populations should be a sign of healthy oceans, which in turn leads to a healthy planet, not a signal to renew our feeding frenzy. The ocean's sentient beings exist for their own purposes not for our pleasure, amusement or convenience.

Isabel A.
Isabel Araujo5 years ago

A good start!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago


Troy G.
Troy Grant5 years ago

The less tuna, sea turtles, rhinos, giant redwoods and other endangered species there are, the more valuable they become and the faster they are hunted to extinction.

Linda Wallace
Linda W5 years ago

It is a start.

Nigel G.
Nigel G5 years ago

It's a shame that the fish population are regarded merely as a food source for humans. A vegetarian (or vegan) diet would benefit us all including the innocent fish that scientists have proven to feel pain and do not deserve to end up on people's dinner plates!

Nadine Hudak
Nadine H5 years ago

what's going to happen to the waters when they start drilling for oil in Alaska!!???????????