Fishing resources

Press release | Press Releases | Media

10.13.22

washington d.c. – The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released a new report examining the efforts of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and regional fisheries management boards to prevent overfishing and assess fish stocks in the agency’s six regional fisheries science centres. The report was requested by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva in November 2019.

The report found that fish stock assessments varied widely across the six NMFS regional science centers, with one center assessing just 10% of its stocks and another assessing nearly 80% of its stocks. Difficulties in data collection were cited as one of the main reasons for this variability. The GAO has made two recommendations to improve one of NMFS’s major fisheries science databases.

Overfishing presents major challenges to the health and sustainability of United States fisheries and fish stocks, as well as the world’s oceans in general. Fisheries support millions of jobs and contributed an estimated $118 billion to the nation’s economy in 2019. Sustained efforts to monitor and prevent overfishing are essential to the economic and environmental sustainability of the nation’s fisheries.

The full GAO report is available here: https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-105172

“America’s fisheries are critical to the health of our oceans and our nation’s economy, but new challenges posed by both the climate crisis and overfishing put them at grave risk,” he added. said President Grijalva. “That’s why it’s critical that the NMFS and our Fisheries Management Boards work at the peak of their license to do their part in managing them effectively.” I encourage the NMFS to take the recommendations of this report seriously. I also want to thank my colleague, MP Huffman, for his tireless work on the legislation to reauthorize and update the Magnuson–Stevens Lawwhich recently passed through the Committee and will help address some of the issues highlighted in this report.

“The quality of fisheries management depends on the data on which it is based”, said Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee Chair Jared Huffman (D-California). “This new GAO report identifies major data gaps on our depleted fish stocks, making it all the more difficult for our fisheries managers to recover them. This, coupled with changing environmental conditions due to global warming, complicates the recovery of these important fish stocks. Fortunately, we have identified solutions – such as my bill to allow the Magnuson–Stevens Law, which contains important provisions to modernize fisheries data and improve recovery results for our overfished stocks. This report highlights how necessary these updates are, and I will continue to press for the changes necessary for the survival of our fisheries and those who depend on them.

Representative Huffman introduced HR 4690, the Keeping America’s Fishing for the Future Act, re-authorize the Magnuson–Stevens Law (MSA) on July 26, 2021. The MSA is the primary law governing fisheries management in U.S. federal waters. Rep. Huffman’s legislation will modernize the MSA to account for climate change and improve fisheries science and data, among other important provisions. A backgrounder on the bill is available here.

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Media contact: Lindsay Gressard

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