FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gordon Helm
ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS
The status of many U.S. marine fish stocks improved in 2000, although some stocks continue to have problems, according to NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service annual report to Congress, which was released today.
"This is our annual review of the conditions of U.S. fisheries," said Scott Gudes, acting NOAA administrator. "It shows us that while we've made some significant gains we must also continue to work with the regional fishery management councils to reduce the number of overfished stocks and comply more fully with strong conservation standards enacted in 1996."
According to NOAA officials, the year 2000 report is more comprehensive than past reports. It provides managers with additional information on stocks, differentiates between those stocks that are overfished and those where overfishing is occurring, and identifies the associated management actions to be taken.
"Overall, we have 75 rebuilding programs in place. We believe that the format of this report better reflects the rebuilding efforts that are going on regionally," said Gudes. "Additionally, NOAA is working with the regional councils on four more rebuilding plans, which are currently under development or under review."
The Year 2000 report included these findings (also see attached fact sheet):
The number of fish stocks whose status
is either unknown or undefined remains
The report and marine fish stock rebuilding efforts are required under amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act passed in 1996. The regional fishery management councils are required to amend each fishery management plan for compliance with revised conservation requirements.
The Magunson-Stevens Act requires scientists to both assess a stock's biomass and the amount of that biomass that is harvested each year in relation to a specified overfishing definition to determine whether the stock is overfished and whether overfishing is occurring.
NOAA Fisheries will now notify the regional councils that they may be required to submit measures to end overfishing and rebuild those stocks determined to be overfished. The councils will have a year to submit amendments or prepare new FMPs for review and approval.
Rebuilding programs must be as short as possible, but not exceed 10 years, except in cases where the biology of the stock, other environmental conditions, or management measures under an international agreement in which the United States participates dictate otherwise.
Additional information, including further comparison with the 1999 report, are in the accompanying fact sheet. The full report is available online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/reports.html.