What is Fisheries Management?
What is Fisheries Management?
Fisheries management draws on fisheries science to formulate rules and regulations that define where, how, and how many fish can be caught each year. The aim is to allow us to harvest as much as possible without destabilizing the delicate marine ecosystem, thus ensuring the availability of fresh-caught fish to future generations. Fisheries managers look at data provided by scientists and use complex models to predict how present fishing efforts will affect the future numbers of various species and distinct genetic populations (“stocks”). If a certain species or stock is identified as being threatened or endangered, fishing may have to be strictly limited or even prohibited in broad areas to allow the fish to recover. Part of the mission of Project CROOS and Pacific Fish Trax is to better understand the location and migration patterns of each stock so that limits or closures of fisheries can be as specific as possible. This will help us continue to protect our environment and natural resources without destroying the livelihoods of the humans who depend on the sea to survive.
In the United States, the primary body of law that guides fisheries management decisions is the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, first passed in 1976. Though the law has been revised many times as circumstances have changed and new data have become available, the basic goals have remained the same. The goals of fisheries management specified by the Magnuson-Stevens Act are:
- 1. Prevent overfishing while achieving optimum yield.
- 2. Be based upon the best scientific information available.
- 3. Manage individual stocks as a unit throughout their range, to the extent practicable; interrelated stocks shall be managed as a unit or in close coordination.
- 4. Not discriminate between residents of different states; any allocation of privileges must be fair and equitable.
- 5. Where practicable, promote efficiency, except that no such measure shall have economic allocation as its sole purpose.
- 6. Take into account and allow for variations among and contingencies in fisheries, fishery resources, and catches.
- 7. Minimize costs and avoid duplications, where practicable.
- 8. Take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities to provide for the sustained participation of, and minimize adverse impacts to, such communities (consistent with conservation requirements).
- 9. Minimize bycatch or mortality from bycatch.
- 10. Promote safety of human life at sea.
The responsibility for interpreting and applying this law is divided between eight regional management councils, each being responsible for a broad area of coastline. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), for example, is responsible for the states of Oregon, Washington, California and Idaho. The PFMC makes recommendations to the United States Department of Commerce. State, tribal, and federal agencies are then responsible for enforcing those regulations.
The Council itself is made up of representatives from member states, native tribes, fish and wildlife management agencies, fishermen, and citizens with extensive knowledge of fishing and conservation. These hard working men and women are rarely in the public eye, but their efforts ensure that ordinary people are free to enjoy delicious fresh seafood now and for many years to come.
Meetings of the PFMC are open to the public. To find out more about fisheries management and the PFMC, check out their website.