Fisheries

A place where fish are raised for commercial purposes.

Fisheries

When we think of a healthy ocean, most of us imagine an ocean swarming with fish. Healthy fish populations are the foundation of marine ecosystems and impact all other animals in the food chain, including whales and seabirds. They also power the economies of the coastal towns that rely on them.

The US fisheries are a significant industry that sustains our coastal towns by offering employment, leisure, and recreation. In reality, when it comes to sustainably farmed seafood, the United States is a world leader. Ten national sustainability requirements are legally enforced, scientifically monitored, and regionally managed for US fisheries.

The dynamic nature of managing sustainable fisheries necessitates routinely paying attention to new scientific findings that might impact management decisions.

Describing Fisheries

There are several ways to use the term “fishery.” It may describe a profession, industry, or time of year for fishing. It may also describe the area of the ocean where fish are caught or the activity of fishing. With 4.4 million square miles of ocean covered, American marine fisheries are the largest in the world.

Included in US fisheries are:

  • Commercial fishing and shellfish selling are done for financial gain.
  • Recreational fishing is done for fun or sport.
  • Fishing for personal, family, and communal consumption or sharing is known as subsistence.

Laws Regulating Fisheries

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act are just a few laws governing how fisheries are managed in the United States.

These acts seek to:

  • To avoid overfishing
  • Replenish overfished stock levels.
  • Increase fisheries’ long-term economic and social advantages.
  • Ensure a sustainable and safe seafood supply.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act, a federal statute that directs the management of our ocean fisheries, has demonstrated that prioritizing long-term fisheries sustainability may be successful.

It has helped the US successfully rehabilitate 47 fish species and dramatically reduce overfishing by establishing science-based standards to stop and restore overfishing populations.

Why do fisheries need to be regulated?

There are several reasons why any fishery industry needs to be regulated. These reasons include:

  • To expand, safeguard, and preserve the domestic seafood supply.
  • To retain and improve possibilities for both leisure and subsistence fishing.
  • To ensure the sustainability and health of the environment.
  • To build community resilience, promote associated economic and social advantages, and create jobs.
  • Peer pressure
  • Presence of drugs at home/school
  • Community attitude and influence
  • Poor academic achievements
  • Parental drug use and criminal activity
  • Trauma (abuse, witnessing violence, divorce, etc.)

The Current State of US Fisheries

Even while sustainable fisheries management has historically been successful, much more effort must be made to keep fisheries conservation from declining. Climate change has made this task even more crucial since fish populations off our shores are migrating to cooler seas, becoming less productive, and experiencing more frequent severe occurrences like marine heat waves.

Even while this development is commendable, the work is far from finished. Several fish populations have had difficulty regenerating, and many species continue to be fished at unsustainable rates and be susceptible to unsafe management choices. Fisheries management must transition to a new era by updating some outdated conventional instruments and using various new “smart tools.”

If properly construed, regulations that impose time limits for harvesting and recovery can be beneficial. Traditional catch quotas, for instance, must be strictly based on a scientific understanding of fish populations and must be implemented to safeguard the resource.

Overfishing Continues

Even while overfishing, or fishing at an unsustainable harvest rate, is at historically low levels, 8% of populations with a documented overfishing status are still impacted. Additional species have been added to the overfishing list due to catch overages in various areas, including the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

Of course, each fishery and each area has a rich history that contributes to the statistics. However you look at it, these patterns do not bode well for the long-term viability of our fisheries. To manage fisheries effectively in the face of climate change, there has to be a renewed emphasis on sustainable catch levels and effective restoration strategies. 

For the future of US fisheries to be secured, Congress and the Biden Administration must act now. Additionally, the Biden Administration must play a significant role in fostering more robust fisheries to climate change.