Report Led By UNH Fisheries Expert Offers Novel Solution To Overfishing
By David Sims, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
October 17, 2007
A report released Friday, Oct.12 by a group of marine science
and fishery management experts proposes a straightforward
approach for establishing performance measures to end overfishing
in U.S. waters.
Put simply, by establishing a buffer below the level that
scientists determine overfishing occurs, the inherent uncertainties
in both the science and management effectiveness can be accounted
for in setting catch limits.
The group was convened by the Lenfest Ocean Program based
in Washington, D.C. and was led by marine scientist and fisheries
expert Andrew Rosenberg of UNH.
“Our goal with this report is to create a practical
way to end overfishing by developing a simple, consistent
process for setting annual catch limits that reduces risk
to the resource and is more predictable for fishermen,” said
Rosenberg, a professor at the Department of Natural Resources
and the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
and lead author of the report.
“Fishery managers never have perfect data nor do management
plans always work as intended. As a consequence, management
decisions need to be more conservative to prevent damage
to the resource and to the fishery,” added Rosenberg
who, as former Northeast regional administrator for the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine
Fisheries Service, played a major role in developing and
implementing recovery plans for New England fisheries which
now are showing improvements on the George’s Bank and
other fishing grounds.
The Lenfest Ocean Program (www.lenfestocean.org) timed the
report’s release so that the National Marine Fisheries
Service could use its recommendations to develop regulations
to implement the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and
Management Reauthorization Act – the nation’s
primary ocean fisheries law, which was signed into law in
The reauthorized law introduced a new mandate to specify
annual catch limits for all fisheries at a level that does
not allow overfishing and enacted measures that hold fishery
managers accountable for adhering to these limits. The Lenfest
Ocean Program also intends for the report to guide regional
fishery management councils as they incorporate annual catch
limits into their management planning.
“This working group did an excellent job of setting
clear, precise guidelines for improving the way we managed
fisheries. Although this report is aimed at U.S. fisheries
management, the group has come up with a solution to overfishing
that can be used around the world. I encourage fishery managers
far and wide to start implementing these principles,” said
Margaret Bowman, director of the Lenfest Ocean Program.
One of the report’s co-authors, Joseph Powers of the
Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana
State University and former fisheries stock assessment scientist
for the National Marine Fisheries Service, noted that it
was now up to the federal government to “decide whether
this report will remain an academic exercise or will become
our nation’s action plan.”