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Nine of the Worst Fisheries for Bycatch

Oceana has identified nine fisheries that have some of the worst bycatch in the U.S. These nine fisheries injure and kill thousands of protected and endangered species every year. They are responsible for more than 50 percent of reported bycatch in the U.S., but only bring in 7 percent of U.S. landings. These nine fisheries combined discard and waste almost as much as they keep. Identifying the worst bycatch fisheries in this way is essential for guiding conservation and management priorities.

Nine of the worst United States fisheries for bycatch

How were the fisheries identified?

Because bycatch takes on many different forms and occurs across diverse fisheries, it is important to evaluate its severity using several criteria, as a single criterion alone does not tell the whole story. For example, a fishery may have a low discard rate, but it might still be harming protected species, depleting long-lived populations, irreversibly altering the food web, or throwing away staggering amounts of fish. Criteria used in this report to evaluate fisheries included:

  • How many pounds are discarded?
  • What is the relative rate at which fish are discarded compared to how many are kept?
  • How many protected species are entangled or killed?
  • What types of fish are discarded (e.g., high market value, prohibited, overfished, etc.)?
  • What are the ecosystem-level impacts of bycatch?