Number of ‘overfished’ stocks at all-time low, agency reports
PORTLAND, Maine — The number of fish stocks that can be described as “overfished” has hit an alltime low, the federal government said Thursday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made the statement as part of its annual Status of Stocks Report to Congress. Six populations of fish are being removed from its list of overfished stocks, including the popular commercially fished stocks of Gulf of Mexico red snapper and Georges Bank winter flounder, the agency said.
NOAA Fisheries classifies jeopardized fish stocks as “overfished” or experiencing “overfishing.” The agency’s report said that 35 stocks out of 235 are overfished, which is the lowest number since the agency started tracking fish populations in this way in 2000.
The news of improved fish stocks is welcome, but U.S. fisheries still must contend with environmental changes, said Alan Risenhoover, director of the Office of Sustainable Fisheries for NOAA Fisheries.
Several fish species that are still subject to overfishing, including populations of Atlantic cod and halibut, are located in New England waters, where they also face pressure from swiftly warming waters.
The stocks removed from the overfished list include gray triggerfish, yelloweye rockfish and Pacific ocean perch. Western Atlantic bluefin tuna was changed to unknown because of a lack of data. Stocks of red grouper, shortfin mako and red hake were added to the overfished list.
The report said 30 stocks out of 317 are subject to overfishing, which is the same as last year and near an all-time low.