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The Next Fight is Ecosystem Overfishing

March 8, 2012

The winter NCMC bulletin is out and the lead article sets up the battle against ‘ecosystem overfishing’ as the next major fight in the U.S. 

NMFS says we are now moving toward a future where overfishing  is  “a  concern of the past,” where the challenge is one of maintaining sustainable fisheries.  “We are as happy as anyone with the progress we’ve all  made  in  turning  the  nation’s fisheries around   and   putting fish stocks   on   the path  to  recovery,”  says  NCMC  president Ken Hinman.    “But  if  we  really  are  going to  sustain  ocean  fishing  in  the  future,  we must fight and win a second battle against overfishing.    ‘Ecosystem  overfishing’  has altered  food  webs,  reduced  diversity,  and upset  the  balance  between  predators  and their prey.  In this battle, the stakes are even higher.”

They do, however, point out that rebuilding will still take some effort:

After  years  of  overfishing,  however, we  are  still  laboring  to  return  quite  a  few stocks  to  healthy  levels;  48  out  of  207  to be   precise,   among   them   Atlantic   cod, bluefi n  tuna,  coastal  sharks,  red  snapper and  grouper,  and  Pacific  groundfish.    But  over  the  last  10  years,  NMFS  points  out, we  have  rebuilt  21  fish  stocks,  including Georges Bank haddock, spiny dogfish and summer flounder.  Others are on the road to recovery.  In a marine environment where overfishing has long been the rule, reaching a point where it’s the exception is indeed a milestone; although NMFS shares the blame for it taking so long to get here. 

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