“How the US stopped its fisheries from collapsing”


Last week, Vox Media published a thorough and intriguing article outlining the US’s efforts to reverse the negative impacts of over-fishing and restore many of its native fish stocks to historic levels.

“We hear a lot of grim stories about overfishing and the decline of fisheries around the world. Bluefin tuna is vanishing. Chilean sea bass is dwindling. Pretty soon, it sometimes seems like, all that’ll be left is the jellyfish.

So it’s worth highlighting a country that has actually done a lot to curtail overfishing and rebuild its fisheries in the past decade — the United States.”

The article goes on to outline how dwindling fish stocks in the 80s and 90s sparked major changes in the regulation and management of federal fishing in the US.  Many of these changes have proven effective and helped our local ocean ecosystems rebuild to healthy levels.

Much of the data used to inform this article was extracted from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual fisheries update for 2013. It should be noted that the terms “overfished” and “overfishing” as they are used by NOAA have been challenged and contested by independent fisheries statisticians and fishing industry members.  Similarly, the science behind the assessments regularly conducted by NOAA scientists have also drawn much speculation and skepticism.  While an unperfect system, the overall goal of rebuilding fish stocks and preserving the resource for future generations remains a common goal that all members of the fisheries community can agree upon.

The whole article from Vox Media can be read here.