NOAA releases 2018 Status of U.S. Fisheries Report to Congress

The document reports West Coast salmon populations have been added to overfished listing and there have been several challenges in managing domestic fisheries.

NATIONWIDE—National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) delivered 2018 Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) this month. The annual report highlights work done to sustain fishing opportunities, including fisheries and commercial fishing endeavors, while also managing overfishing.

According to statistics of the report, some fishing stocks improved while one in particular, the overfished listing, increased. In 2017, 35 stocks (15 percent) were listed; it grew to 43 stocks (18 percent) in 2018. The overfishing list has decreased from 30 (9 percent) in 2017 to 28 (9 percent) in 2018. Stocks on the rebuilt list also increased by one species from 44 in 2017 to 45 in 2018.

The report stated, “At the end of 2018, the overfishing list included 28 stocks and the overfished list included 43 stocks. Gulf of Maine smooth skate was rebuilt in 2018, and the total number of stocks rebuilt since 2000 has increased to 45. NOAA Fisheries tracks 479 stocks or stock complexes in 46 fishery management plans.”

Salmon species in the Pacific Northwest have not been faring as well as in previous years and have become endangered. In an article by National Fishermen, it was cited that droughts and warmer waters have “plagued” some species. Added to the overfished list for salmon included Chinook salmon in Sacramento River fall run and Klameth River fall run and Coho salmon in Washington Coast Queets, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, Snohomish.

Other stocks added to the overfishing list included Gulf-of-Mexico-region gray and lane snappers and Columbia River Basin Chinook salmon. Smooth skate in Gulf of Maine were the only species rebuilt in 2018.

The report boasted how the United States has become “an international leader” in managing domestic fisheries. However, there were some challenges when it came to managing the fisheries.

In the report, it said, “Environmental change, habitat degradation, and international fishing contributed to the status of the eight new overfished stocks. For example, relatively warm water conditions may be impacting the growth and reproduction of the cold-water Saint Matthew Island blue king crab. This stock has never been subject to overfishing and directed fishing for this crab has been prohibited since 2016. Warm ocean conditions, including the warm ‘Blob’ in the northeast Pacific Ocean, reduced the number of spawning coho salmon returning to their natal rivers, and both Chinook and coho salmon have been impacted by habitat degradation caused by drought and lack of sufficient water for spawning. During the past 5 years, several of the fisheries for these salmon stocks have been declared fishery disasters under the MSA by the Secretary of Commerce due to factors beyond the control of fishery managers.”

Read the complete report online at bit.ly/2Ti5wiW.

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