Table of Contents
Executive Summary 1 | Introduction 1 | Listing of Species 2
Basis for Determining Status of Overfishing 2 | Results 3 | Conclusion 4
List of Tables and Appendices
Table A1. Summary of Stock Status for Species Contained in Federal Fishery 9
Table A2. Summary of Stock Status for Species not Contained in Federal Fishery 53
Table A3. Species Contained in Federal Fishery Management Plans 55
App. 1. Overfishing Definitions Contained in Fishery Management Plans 58
App. 2. Overfishing Definitions for Species not Contained in Federal 74
Fishery Management Plans
App. 3. Overfishing Definitions from Fishery Management Plans Under 75
App. 4. Six Tiers comprising the Overfishing Definition for Gulf of Alaska 76
and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Groundfish
App. 5. Acronyms used in Appendices 78
Report on Status of Fisheries and Identification of Overfished Stocks
The Sustainable Fisheries Act [SFA (Public Law 104-297)], which reauthorizes and amends the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) was signed into law by President Clinton on October 11, 1996. The reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act requires the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to report to Congress annually on the status of fisheries within each Council's geographical area of authority and identify those fisheries that are overfished or are approaching a condition of being overfished.
Although this report identifies a significant number of stocks that are overfished, the list will likely be expanded in the next year or two as the provisions of the SFA are fully implemented. In accordance with the requirements of the SFA, the basis for the identification of overfished stocks is the current overfishing definition found in the Fishery Management Plans (FMPs). The SFA also defined "overfished" and "overfishing," and required that FMP definitions, amended to be consistent with the new statutory definition, be submitted to the Secretary by October 11, 1998. As these new FMP definitions are submitted and approved, additional stocks will likely be identified as overfished.
Based on the criteria specified in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Report on the Status of Fisheries finds that 86 species are listed as "overfished," 183 species are listed as "not overfished," and 10 species are considered to be approaching an overfished condition; for 448 species, the status relative to overfishing is unknown. Whenever possible, species were assessed using existing overfishing definitions in FMPs or FMPs under development; the remainder were evaluated using the 1995 edition of Our Living Oceans.
This report to Congress responds to section 304(e)(1) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, as amended by the SFA on October 11, 1996:
(1) The Secretary shall report annually to the Congress and the Councils on the status of fisheries within each Council's geographical area of authority and identify those fisheries that are overfished or are approaching a condition of being overfished. For those fisheries managed under a fishery management plan or international agreement, the status shall be determined using the criteria for overfishing specified in such plan or agreement. A fishery shall be classified as approaching a condition of being overfished if, based on trends in fishing effort, fishery resource size, and other appropriate factors, the Secretary estimates that the fishery will become overfished within two years.
This report constitutes the National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) first annual report to Congress and the Councils in compliance with section 304(e)(1).
Listing of Species
There are currently 39 approved and implemented FMPs and 5 FMPs under development; there are numerous other fisheries in the U.S. EEZ for which there are no FMPs at this time. Some FMPs contain only one or a few species in the management unit, while others contain more than 100 species. To assess fully the status of the fish stocks within the U.S. EEZ, individual species were broken out to the extent possible for each fishery or FMP, and each species was separately assessed.
A table was created listing each species within a management unit identified in an FMP, the associated management body, a determination of whether the species is overfished, a determination of whether it is approaching an overfished condition, and the basis of the overfishing definition (see Table A1). Similar tables were created for species not contained in FMPs (Table A2), and for species contained in FMPs under development (Table A3). Species to be included in Table A2 were identified by NMFS as those for which a substantial portion of the stock occurs within the EEZ.
Basis for Determining Status of Overfishing
As required by section 304(e)(1) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, for those species managed under an FMP or international agreement, the status determination was based on the criteria for overfishing (i.e., the overfishing definition) specified in the FMP or agreement whenever possible (see Appendices 1, 2, 3, and 4). For most species, the existing overfishing definitions are based wholly or in part on a fishing mortality rate. Such definitions typically assess the species on the basis of whether overfishing (as a rate of removals) is currently taking place (i.e., whether the current fishing mortality rate is greater than the maximum allowable rate specified in the definition). FMPs that base their definition on something other than a fishing mortality rate, such as stock biomass, typically assess overfishing of the species on the basis of the current status of the stock relative to a stock or index level specified in the definition of overfishing. To distinguish the type of definition applied, the tables include a column providing the basis of the overfishing definition.
For all species for which there is an approved overfishing definition contained in the FMP or an overfishing definition contained in the FMP under development, the status of the stock relative to the FMP definition was used to determine the status of the species and whether or not it is approaching an overfished condition. Species (1) for which there are no FMPs or international agreements, but that are under the Councils' geographic area of authority or under the Secretary's management authority pursuant to section 302(a)(3); (2) that are contained in an FMP or an FMP under development, but that do not have an overfishing definition; or (3) for which the overfishing definition is inadequate to make a determination of overfishing, the 1995 edition of Our Living Oceans (OLO) was used to determine the status relative to overfishing. In OLO, the term "overfishing" is not used, but a similar concept, which relates the stock size to the stock size that would produce "Long Term Potential Yield" (LTPY) is used. Species that are listed in OLO as "below" and "far below" stock levels necessary to produce LTPY are considered "overfished," and those listed as "near" and "above" stock levels necessary to produce LTPY are considered "not overfished." The SFA defines "overfished" as a rate or level of fishing mortality that jeopardizes the capacity of a fishery to produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) on a continuing basis. LTPY, as used in OLO, is analogous to MSY. Thus, the conclusions reached in OLO approximate the conclusions that would be drawn if an assessment had been made using the SFA's generic definition of "overfished." OLO determinations are considered stock level based definitions. Because OLO does not make a determination of whether the stock is "approaching an overfished condition," that determination could not be made for those species assessed using OLO. For species that have no overfishing definition or for which there is no determination of stock status in OLO, the overfished status is listed as "Unknown" and the basis of overfishing definition is listed as "No Definition."
Information regarding the overfished status of species is continually evolving and has become available since the most recent publication of OLO. For those cases for which there is updated information in a citable form, that information was used to determine the status of each species in this report. It is recognized that this approach may not include all "preliminary" information for each species. However, this approach is taken to minimize potential confusion as conclusions about stock conditions change with changes in "preliminary" information. For example, the conclusions reached in OLO regarding the overfished status of spiny dogfish, Atlantic halibut, and tilefish may not agree with additional, not yet citable, information that has become available since the publication of OLO.
Using the methodology described above to assess the status of the fisheries, there are currently 86 species classified as "overfished," 183 species classified as "not overfished," 10 species that are "approaching an overfished condition," and 448 species whose status is unknown. The categories "not overfished" and "approaching an overfished condition" are mutually exclusive. Any species listed as "approaching an overfished condition" (because it is estimated that it will become "overfished" within 2 years) is not included in the "not overfished" category, even though it is currently not overfished. This is to eliminate double-counting of the species analyzed in this report.
The following table provides a breakdown of the assessed species:
|Number of Stocks under Council's Geographical Area of Authority||Jurisdiction||Overfished||Not Overfished||Approaching Overfished Condition||Unknown|
|9||NEFMC / MAFMC||1||1||0||7|
|10||SAFMC / GMFMC||1||5||0||4|
|1||PFMC / NPFMC||0||1||0||0|
Based on the identifications made in this report, the Councils are now required to develop programs to end overfishing and rebuild some 76 overfished stocks, and to prevent overfishing from occurring for the 10 stocks that are approaching an overfished condition. This involves at least 19 FMPs that will have to be submitted for approval within the next year. There are also 10 stocks that are overfished but are not covered by FMPs; plans must be developed to end overfishing and rebuild affected stocks in these fisheries in the same timeframe. The rebuilding programs must be as short as possible, but not exceed 10 years, except in cases where the biology of the stock of fish, other environmental conditions, or management measures under an international agreement in which the United States participates dictate otherwise.
The majority of stocks (61%) identified in this report were assessed as unknown in terms of their status relative to overfishing; there are 428 stocks that are contained in FMPs whose status is unknown and 20 stocks not contained in FMPs whose status is unknown. Additional efforts to obtain information necessary to assess these stocks will be required before their status can be determined. As the status of these stocks become known, some will require that measures be taken to end or prevent overfishing in fisheries managed under an FMP, and others will require that an FMP be developed.
Under the amended provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Councils will be required to reassess each FMP for compliance with the overfishing provisions. Many of the FMPs will require amendments to bring them into conformance. In particular, each overfishing definition will need to be examined on the basis of its ability to ensure stock levels that can produce MSY on a continuing basis, rather than simply addressing recruitment overfishing, as is typically the case in many existing FMPs. Based on this change, it is possible that many species that are now classified as "not overfished" in this report on the basis of a fishing mortality rate definition will ultimately be reassessed as "overfished" when the FMPs and overfishing definitions are amended consistent with the new requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Consequently, this report represents a minimum number of overfished fisheries of the United States, and will probably understate the number of fisheries that will eventually be determined to be overfished.
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