NOAA Fisheries Announces All-Time Low in Overfishing and Overfished Stocks

Created on Wednesday, 13 May 2015

In April, NOAA Fisheries released its 2014 report on the Status of U.S. Fisheries to Congress. The number of stocks listed as subject to overfishing or overfished continues to decline and is at an all-time low. The progress made in 2014 shows that the approach to determine stock status and manage for sustainability is working. According to the report, only 8% of the federally managed 469 fish stocks are on the overfishing list and only 16% of stocks are on the overfished list. Additionally, the number of rebuilt fish stocks has increased to 37 since 2000 (three more rebuilt stocks than the 2013 report).

A stock that is subject to overfishing has an annual catch rate that is too high and can be a direct result of fishing activities. A stock that is overfished has a population size that is too low and can be a result of many factors, including overfishing, habitat degradation, pollution, climate change, and disease. A rebuilt stock is one that was previously overfished and that has increased in abundance to the target population size that supports its maximum sustainable yield.

This report comes as great news for consumers, fishermen, and fishing communities as they can feel confident that the fish they are harvesting, processing, and eating are from well-managed stocks. For more information on the newly rebuilt stocks, please see NOAA’s Status of Stocks 2014 video.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), first passed in 1976, is the primary law governing marine fisheries in U.S. federal waters. It provides a strong science-based sustainable fishery management approach to work to end overfishing and rebuild stocks. Continual improvements in science-based stock assessments have facilitated the rebuilding of U.S. fisheries and have enabled the Unites States to become the world leader in sustainable fisheries management.