|INFORMATION ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA|
The location of the top 50 USA landing places by volume and by value are shown in Figure 1. To avoid disclosure and to preserve the confidentiality of private enterprise, certain leading ports have not been included. Landings occur throughout the US, usually in reasonable proximity to the fishing areas. As vessels have increased in speed and freezing capabilities, the relationship is less strictly held than in past decades. Catches of Alaska pollock, Pacific whiting and other Pacific groundfish caught in the northeast Pacific EEZ of the US and processed at-sea are not attributed to a specific US port. The record landings for an individual port in quantity was 386 thousand metric tons in Los Angeles, California in 1960 and for value was $224.1 million in Dutch Harbor-Unalaska, Alaska in 19941 .
II. Organisational Structure Of Fisheries Authorities At National Level
Management within the EEZ is the responsibility of the Federal government and eight regional Fishery Management Councils. The Federal EEZ is located 3-200 nautical miles (n.mi.) seaward of the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, Hawaii, and US-affiliated islands except 9-200 n.mi. off Texas, the Florida Gulf Coast, and Puerto Rico.
NMFS is the agency responsible for the science-based conservation and management of the Nation's living marine resources and their environment. NMFS is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the Department of Commerce. NMFS is often referred to as NOAA Fisheries. NMFS provides scientific and technical services and programs in support of fisheries management and conservation. NOAA Fisheries coordinates and approves fishery management plans, implements and enforces regulations, and conducts other fisheries conservation and service programs. Councils develop federal fishing plans and regulations through a process involving technical teams, independent scientific committees, constituent advisory panels, enforcement officials, lawyers, management agencies, and the public. Council members are nominated by state governors in each region and appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. On each council are each state's director of marine fisheries; a person knowledgeable of fisheries or marine conservation from each state; and some at-large members from any of the states in the region. Scientific and Statistical Committees (of scientists and other technical persons) and Advisory Panels (of people knowledgeable in fisheries or conservation). The plans and their concomitant regulations are submitted to NMFS for approval and implementation. Copies of the fisheries legislation and related documents, including guidelines, can be found at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/index.htm. Links to the Councils are at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/partnerships.htm. The NMFS organization chart is at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/org_chart.htm. The US Coast Guard (http://www.uscg.mil/uscg.shtm) works with NMFS on at-sea enforcement.
Fig.1. Commercial Fishery Landings and Value at Major U.S. Ports, (2001)
fisheries, within the 0-3 nm (in most states) territorial sea, are managed
by coastal states and three interstate marine fisheries commissions. State
agencies manage fishery resources within state waters, developing programs,
policies, and conservation regulations. The commissions are used by the
states as an instrument for joint action, focusing on issues that affect
multiple states. The commissions coordinate data collection, research,
and responses to fisheries issues. Membership in the commissions include
the states of the region, government and industry leaders, and representatives
of the fishing sectors. Links to the Commissions are at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/partnerships.htm.
Inland fisheries, within states or tribal lands, are managed by the states or tribes. The Biological Resources Discipline (http://biology.usgs.gov/) of the US Geological Survey assists in fisheries science and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (http://www.fws.gov/) assists with a system of hatcheries. Both agencies are part of the Interior Department. In the case of the Great Lakes, whose resources are shared with Canada, the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (http://www.glfc.org/) coordinates research and regulatory actions.
III. Fisheries Management
Concern for the sustainability of fish resources was evident as early as 1871, when Congress wrote that "... the most valuable food fishes of the coast and the lakes of the US are rapidly diminishing in number, to the public injury, and so as materially to affect the interests of trade and commerce...." However, it was not until 1976, when the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MFCMA) was implemented, that the Federal government was given responsibility for actively managing fish resources and fisheries. The MFCMA expanded the Federal role in fisheries to include management of resources from 3 to 200 miles off the coast for most species and beyond 200 miles for anadromous species such as salmon. Prior to the MFCMA, the Federal fisheries role mostly consisted of biological research, exploratory fishing, gear development, financial assistance programs, voluntary seafood inspection programs, and participation in several international agreements and treaties.
In recent years, NOAA's vision for increasing the Nation's wealth includes maintaining fishery resources over time to provide Americans with both commercial and recreational fishing opportunities and a safe supply of high quality seafood. This vision incorporates both biological and economic sustainability: stock levels maintained at biologically healthy levels; optimal harvest of fish over time, using the least-cost levels of capital, labor, and other resources; and equitable allocation of the harvest between user groups 2.
In partnership with the regional fishery management councils, NMFS is working to fully implement the legislative goals of preventing overfishing and restoring overfished stocks. The NMFS objectives are to reduce fishing intensity, monitor the fisheries, and implement measures to reduce bycatch and protect essential fish habitat. To meet these objectives, NMFS is employing a broad range of management measures including establishing marine protected areas and individual fishing quotas, reducing fishing capacity, and implementing ecosystem-based fishery management. Recent initiatives include streamlining regulatory operations, implementing the recommendations of independent review bodies, and expanding fishery science and research3 .
Significant progress has been made in recent years. Two stocks were declared to be fully rebuilt in 2001. The stocks with sustainable harvest rates rose by 45 percent between 1999 and 2001, while those with sustainable stocks sizes increased by a third. The number of stocks with overfishing occurring have been reduced by 15 percent, and those whose stock size is below minimum acceptable levels, i.e., overfished stocks, have declined by 12 percent in the last year. Rebuilding programs are in place or under development for virtually all overfished stocks, and have largely resulted in the gains.4
A. Overview of the Government Strategy
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (known as
the MSFCMA or the Magnuson Act) is the primary fisheries law in the US
It mandates strong action to conserve and manage fishery resources that
contribute to the food supply, economy, and health of the Nation. Its
provisions require NMFS to end overfishing, rebuild all overfished stocks,
and conserve essential fish habitat through research and consultations
on Federal and state actions which may adversely affect such habitat.
The MSFCMA and related documents are available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/index.htm.
MSFCMA interacts with other important federal and state laws such as te
Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Coastal
Zone Management Act, and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.
B. Description Of Main Management Systems For Major Fisheries
NMFS and the Councils have developed and implemented 40 Fishery Management Plans to manage domestic fishery stocks, under the authority of the MSFCMA. Of these, two are Secretarial FMPs developed by NMFS for Atlantic highly migratory species. Another nine Plans are under development. The Plans and links to further information are available through http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/domes_fish/FMPS.htm.
All Council-prepared FMPs must be reviewed for approval by the Secretary of Commerce and then implemented by NMFS through Federal regulations. The FMPs are amended by the Councils and the amendments are submitted for approval under the same Secretarial review process as new FMPs. Most of the FMPs have been amended since initial implementation.
In 2001, NMFS published 853 documents in the Federal Register that affected domestic fishing issues and either proposed or implemented fishery management actions (i.e., FMP and amendments). The documents published included hearing, meeting, correction, and proposed and final rule docments.
from survey vessels, landing statistics and other sources flow through
an analytical system that brings information before decision makers across
the fisheries spectrum. The following figure provides an overview of the
flow and processes.
Major Fisheries by Region 6
Five species, mainly pelagic fishes, are presently underutilized, and the CPY of the two most abundant of these, Atlantic mackerel and herring, is about 555,500 t higher than their combined recent average yield (RAY).
The anadromous striped bass, driven to very low levels of abundance in the early 1980's and subjected to severe catch restrictions beginning in the mid 1980's, was declared fully restored in early 1995. The region's valuable crustaceans and bivalve mollusks, both offshore (e.g. American lobster, sea scallop, surfclam, and ocean quahog) and inshore (e.g. blue crab, oyster, blue mussel, and hard and softshell clam) are nearly all fully or overexploited.
Most Northeast Region fisheries are governed by FMP's that are either in place or under development. Despite the goals of FMP's, overexploitation of their respective species has occurred in many cases, and efforts to rebuild have generally not yet succeeded in fully restoring depleted stocks. Striped bass (managed since 1981 by an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) FMP), herring, mackerel, short-finned squid, scallops, and surfclams (managed by Federal FMP's) are the only species to have fully recovered from overutilization. Both summer flounder and weakfish have experienced marked increases in abundance and reductions in fishing mortality as a result of regulatory constraints imposed by FMP's, although target levels have not yet been fully achieved. Amendment 5 to the Northeast Multispecies FMP, approved in March 1994, was intended to limit commercial fishing effort on groundfish in New England and bring recovery within 5-10 years. However, scientific advice issued in August 1994, indicating that the Georges Bank stocks of cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder had collapsed or were in danger of collapsing, led to the December 1994, emergency closure of portions of Georges Bank, severely restricting fishing for haddock. In addition, the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) developed and implemented Amendment 7 to the Multispecies FMP to further reduce fishing mortality on these stocks by means of even stricter restrictions on fishing. As a result, some rebuilding has occurred for stocks on Georges Bank and the cod stock in the Gulf of Maine has nearly doubled in the last few years. Concurrently, Canada has tightened controls on its groundfish fishery on the eastern part of Georges Bank to promote stock rebuilding, and these measures have resulted in improved abundance in those waters.
Amendment 4 to the Sea Scallop FMP, implemented in 1994, was intended to control fishing effort by limiting the days at sea for each vessel, placing a moratorium on new entrants, and imposing a larger mesh-ring size for dredges. Some protection of scallops has been achieved by the closure, since December 1994, of portions of Georges Bank to all fishing for the protection of groundfish. Scallops have now recovered to at or above their biomass targets. Amendment 3 to the ASMFC American Lobster FMP, approved in December 1997, introduced effort control and various other measures aimed at reducing the currently high fishing mortality on lobsters. The highly migratory pelagic species are important components of domestic fisheries in the Northeast and Southeast Regions, and for international fisheries elsewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.
The western Atlantic bluefin tuna is well below historic population levels. Marlins (blue and white) and sailfish are below as well. Swordfish in the North Atlantic is also below the level that would produce maximum long-term yield. Yellowfin tuna, which accounts for 39% of the total RAY for these stocks, is presently fully exploited and near its maximum long-term yield. Bigeye tuna exploitation has recently increased, but current yields are not expected to be maintained because they are about 20% above LTPY.
Coastal migratory pelagic fishes account for 1.3% of the Southeast RAY. Overfishing of the migratory stocks of South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Spanish mackerel and South Atlantic king mackerel was detected during the mid 1980's. In concert with the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico fishery management councils, NMFS instituted regulations addressing a combination of contentious issues. These included restrictive catch, size, trip, and bag limits; allocation of catch quotas between commercial and recreational fishers; and a gillnet ban in Florida state waters. In 2001, both Spanish mackerel stocks had recovered to sustainable levels, and the Gulf of Mexico king mackerel stock was almost rebuilt. The Atlantic migratory stock of king mackerel has never been overfished, due to proactive management. The status of other coastal migratory pelagic species in the region is unknown. Reef fish in the Southeast Region include over 200 stocks of more than 100 species currently contributing 25,737 t in fishery yield. The degree of utilization and status relative to LTPY are unknown for many of these stocks, but several of the major species have been assessed. The red snapper fishery has been under stringent management measures since the late 1990's. A stock rebuilding plan proposed in 2001 provides a 9.12 million lb. quota and bag limits, size limits, and commercial and recreational seasons. This plan, which will remain in effect until 2005, will provide stability and predictability in this support fishery for both industry and consumers. Red grouper appears to be fully utilized in the Gulf of Mexico. In the Atlantic, many of the key species are considered overutilized (e.g. vermilion and other snappers, red porgy, several groupers, amberjacks, and jewfish).
In the Caribbean, Nassau grouper and jewfish are considered overutilized; the status of other species is unknown. The status of drum, spot, croaker, seatrouts, and kingfish stocks, which contribute about 3% of the Southeast RAY, is largely unknown. These species constitute the bulk of a bycatch that averaged 175,000 t during the 1980's, when billions of juveniles were discarded annually. Bycatch has become a major management issue, and efforts are underway to reduce bycatch through new gear designs. Red drum harvests in the EEZ of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic have been prohibited, and harvests in state waters have been reduced for several years due to low spawning levels. All indications are that recruitment is increasing, and recovery is expected, although not necessarily in the immediate future. As noted above, the highly migratory pelagic species are important components of domestic fisheries in the Southeast and Northeast Regions, and for international fisheries elsewhere in the Atlantic. In particular, the Southeast Region includes major components of the fisheries for swordfish, marlins, sailfish and yellowfin.
The groundfish fishery harvests a vast array of bottom-dwelling species from Washington to California. The total RAY of 353,264 t is 76% of LTPY. The difference between RAY and LTPY is due to a variety of factors, including the diversity of this fishery complex. Some species are overexploited, some have experienced periods of low recruitment, and some are underutilized. Despite being below LTPY, Pacific whiting dominates the commercial US RAY, accounting for 78% of the west coast groundfish catch. Rockfishes and lingcod also support popular recreational fisheries. Certain stocks, such as Pacific ocean perch, need to be rebuilt following overutilization and a period of poor recruitment. Shortbelly rockfish is underutilized because of a lack of market. Many rockfish species live a long time (in some cases up to 80 years or more) and may take many years to mature and reproduce, making stock recovery even more challenging. NMFS is working in partnership with the fishing industry, universities, and state, local, and tribal agencies to collect basic scientific data about the species. In addition, there are now 25 observers at sea on commercial fixed-gear and trawl fishing vessels, transmitting real-time data electronically to NMFS.
Pacific Coast shellfish resources are diverse and important both commercially and recreationally. Shrimp, crab, clam, and abalone fisheries are relatively small in terms of tonnage landed, but they contribute substantially to the value of the fisheries, due to the high prices they command. Most shellfish species are fully utilized. Recreational fisheries are important along the Pacific Coast and especially so in southern California. A wide variety of species is taken, and the recreational catch of some greatly exceeds the commercial catch. Many are nearshore resources. Gamefishes such as albacore, billfishes, rockfish, and salmon are highly prized. Recreational crabbing, clam digging, and abalone diving activities are also significant.
The highly migratory stocks (tunas, billfishes, swordfish, sharks, and others) range the high seas, often beyond US fisheries management jurisdiction. Tunas are the major catch component and migrate across multiple jurisdictions in the Pacific. The combined LTPY of these stocks throughout their migratory range is 3,435,031 t, while the prorated US LTPY is only about 7.5% of that. Of the 15 stock groups of highly migratory pelagic fishes, 11 stocks are near the levels that would produce their LTPY's, 1 is below LTPY (blue marlin), 2 are above (yellowfin and skipjack in the central-western Pacific), and 1 (pelagic sharks) is of unknown status. Together, these stocks account for 99% of the region's RAY in tonnage and support some of the most valuable fisheries in the world. In the Hawaii-based pelagic long line fishery for billfish and tuna, observers aboard the vessels now modern protected species interaction with the fishery such as loggerhead, leatherback and green sea turtles, and albatross. These activities are expected to form the basis for new management measures that reduce the incidental bycatch of these important species.
Western Pacific bottomfishes (snappers, jacks, grouper, emperors) are harvested from a variety of rock and coral habitats around Hawaii and western Pacific islands. About 90% of the catch is taken in the Main Hawaiian Islands, where stock assessments indicate some important species are only at 10-30% of original stock levels in some areas. But when the resources are considered across the region, the US RAY of 492 t is only 18% of LTPY, mainly because stocks in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, and the Mariana Islands are underutilized. Pelagic armorhead was harvested from 1968 to the late 1980's or early 1990's by foreign fleets on the summits and slopes of submerged seamounts along the southern Emperor- northern Hawaiian Ridge. Of these undersea mountains, the only group under US jurisdiction is the Hancock Seamounts (representing less than 5% of the total fishing grounds). Fishing there has been prohibited since 1984, to allow the stock to recover after foreign catch rates declined to low levels. The US has never fished pelagic armorhead, but because of its fishery potential, the resource is regulated under a Seamount Groundfish FMP.
The most important invertebrate fisheries in the Western Pacific Region are for spiny and slipper lobsters, primarily fished in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. This fishery began in 1977 and reached its peak during the mid 1980's, but it has since declined. The primary cause of the decline is thought to be a general reduction in lobster productivity and recruitment since 1989, stemming from mesoscale oceanographic changes. Since 1991, a limited entry and harvest guideline regulatory regime has been implemented, which has allowed some recovery in the fishery. The lobster total RAY of 109 t is 49% of LTPY.
Traditional fishery management techniques are usually employed in resource conservation. These include size limits, catch limits, method restrictions, and area and time closures. Nearly all are covered by licensing requirements and these often prohibit non-residents from participating in the fisheries or require them to pay higher license fees. Usually, sales and landings must be reported to local conservation agencies and to taxing authorities.
IV. Short Description Of Main Fishery Regulations
Under the MSFMCA, eight Regional Fishery Management Councils are charged with preparing Fishery Management Plans (FMPs), using the best scientific information available, for the fisheries needing management within their areas of authority. After the Councils prepare FMPs that cover domestic and foreign fishing efforts, the FMPs are submitted to the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) for approval and implementation. The Department, through NMFS agents and the US Coast Guard, is responsible for enforcing the law and regulations. Enforcement is done at sea using USCG vessels and USCG and NMFS personnel, onshore using NMFS enforcement agents. Increasingly being used are monitoring systems involving satellite-based tracking of fishing vessels. These systems provide for reporting catch, identifying vessels, reporting a ship's position, routine communications and communicating emergencies.
The Secretary is empowered to prepare FMPs in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico for highly migratory species. Where no FMP exists, Preliminary Fishery Management Plans (PMPs), which only cover foreign fishing efforts, are prepared by the Secretary for each fishery for which a foreign nation requests a permit. The Secretary is also empowered to produce an FMP for any fishery that a Council has not duly produced. In this latter case, the Secretary's FMP covers domestic and foreign fishing.
The Atlantic swordfish, Atlantic sharks, and Atlantic billfish fisheries are currently being managed by the Secretary under the MSFCMA, and the Western Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery is managed under the MSFCMA and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act7 .
V. Foreign Fishing And Management Of Shared Stocks
The MSFCMA reaches beyond the EEZ in also providing for fishery management authority over continental shelf resources and anadromous species, except when they are found within a foreign nation's territorial sea or fishery conservation zone (or equivalent), to the extent that such sea or zone is recognized by the US 8.
Under the MSFCMA, the Secretary of State, in cooperation with the Secretary of Commerce, negotiates Governing International Fishery Agreements (GIFAs) with foreign nations requesting to fish within the EEZ. After a GIFA is signed, it is transmitted by the President to the Congress for ratification.
As US fishing capacity grew following passage of the MSFCMA, foreign participation in directed fisheries, as well as in foreign joint ventures in which US vessels delivered US harvested fish to permitted foreign vessels in the EEZ diminished until, in 1991, foreign vessels no longer were permitted to conduct directed fishing in the EEZ. This marked the achievement of one of the objectives of the MSFCMA, that is, the development of the US fishing industry to take what were in 1976 underutilized species, and the displacement of directed foreign fishing effort in the EEZ. Although there has been very little foreign fishing allowed since 1991, NMFS maintains foreign fishing regulations should there be a future situation in which allowing limited foreign fishing in an underutilized fishery would be of advantage to the US
C. Description Of Main Management Systems For Aquaculture
Three US Government Departments, Agriculture (USDA), Commerce (DOC), and Interior (USDI) and several of their agencies share aquaculture responsibilities. Their work is coordinated through the Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture (JSA). USDA focuses on freshwater species but provides general support to all farming businesses. USDI focuses on freshwater species particularly in operating a national system of hatcheries and in assisting American Indian tribal aquaculture. DOC focuses on marine species and working with the fishery management councils, regulates the development of aquaculture in the EEZ.
There is no single federal agency for assistance to, nor regulation of, the aquaculture industry in the US. Each facet comes under the jurisdiction of the an appropriate authority, such as seafood inspection, environmental protection, food safety, technology or research assistance, licensing, and taxation, just as would other sectors of the US economy.
2. The US Department of Commerce (DOC) has a plan and a set of objectives that is similar in concept to those of USDI and USDA, but more specific. Working in partnership with all parts of government and all stakeholders, DOC will create a business climate and technological base for industry to develop environmentally sound aquaculture. The specific, quantitative objectives by the year 2025 are available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/trade/DOCAQpolicy.htm. 9
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)10 . NOAA is the major DOC element with responsibilities for aquaculture through programs in the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the National Sea Grant College Program and the National Ocean Service. NOAA objectives include: (1) minimization of environmental impacts and development of standards; (2) development of cost-effective, environmentally sound aquaculture and hatchery technology; (3) growth and production of marine species throughout their life cycle; (4) biotechnology to provide improved strains, sterile animals, detection of pathogens, and development of vaccines and other measures for controlling disease and parasites; 5 technology transfer to industry and government partners; (6) coordination with management agencies to identify areas appropriate for aquaculture facilities and develop more efficient permitting procedures.
3. The US Department of Interior (USDI) has two major aquaculture programs:
VI. National Investments and Subsidies
In a recent major congressionally mandated study of Federal investment in the fishery sector, virtually all aspects of US tax, fisheries, and societal policies were examined to see whether they created subsidies for the US fishing industry and whether these subsidies had positive or negative impacts. The task force that was established to conduct the study determined that the US influences capitalization to a lesser degree than some other fishing nations. For the last several decades, Federal assistance to the fishing industry has markedly declined and remnant programs have become much more focused. The more significant programs were those that allow deferral of income taxes to be used on vessel improvement, buyback programs that retire excess capacity, and a loan guarantee program that permits a few vessels to have longer loan terms than are otherwise available. These programs have very little impact on adding additional fishing capacity or making US fisheries commodities more competitive in the world market. The task force cited a staff analysis that estimated the gross value of direct US subsidies at $25 million, or slightly more than 0.5% of the gross ex-vessel value of commercial landings. In the US. there are no massive ship construction subsidies, market development and other forms of assistance that are readily apparent in developed and developing fishing industries around the world. The report is available online at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/ITF.html .12
VII. Projection Of Supply And Demand
The outlook for the Nation's living marine resources depends in good part on the management actions that are being taken at present. The decline in the abundance of many stocks in all US regions during the past few decades was primarily the result of overfishing (sometimes compounded by environmental changes). The strengthened management measures, designed to reduce overfishing and begin rebuilding, that are being implemented should result in an acceleration in the rate of improvement of stock status and fishery utilization levels. Their success depends on how effectively they can be implemented over the foreseeable future. Short-term losses in yield are expected as an immediate cost of rebuilding overfished stocks. However, judging from the remarkable ability of many stocks to recover from overfishing, the outlook is very positive over the long term, and should result in the potential for higher sustainable yields with reduced risk to the resources 13.
Aquaculture production is expected to continue to expand. The positive factors include new technologies for systems that recirculate water, new techniques for obtaining brood stock, development of faster growing animals, and some easing of the regulatory burden in planning and implementing new facilities. As increased attention is paid towards cleaning up and poorstandards for minimizing their impact on the environment, on navigation, and on aesthetic views. Increased attention is being paid to placing facilities offshore, out of the site of land.
Inland fisheries will likely remain about the same, with the majority of production being harvested by the recreational sector. As water quality continues to improve, fisheries production will find easy access to dinner tables, no matter how it is caught.