‘Over­fished’ species list reaches all-time low


PORT­LAND, Maine — The num­ber of Amer­i­can fish stocks that can be de­scribed as “over­fished” has hit an all­time low, the U.S. gov­ern­ment an­nounced on 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 stated 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.

“One of the ma­jor con­cerns we have is the en­vi­ron­ment chang­ing along the North­east coast or the New Eng­land coast, and is that hav­ing an ef­fect on those stocks,” Risen­hoover said. “Our sci­en­tists are look­ing at that.”

The stocks re­moved from the over­fished list also in­clude types of 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 also stated that 30 stocks out of 317 are sub­ject to over­fish­ing, which is the same as last year and near an all-time low ac­cord­ing to the agency. Some fish stocks have un­known sta­tus.

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