Bycatch is a significant problem in the United States. Bycatch undermines successful fisheries management and wastes the ocean’s living marine resources. The federal government is required to minimize bycatch and the deaths of unintentionally captured fish and protected species.
Oceana has identified nine fisheries that have some of the worst bycatch in the United States. 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 landings. These nine fisheries combined discard and waste almost as much as they keep. In addition to ecological waste, bycatch also represents a great deal of economic waste. Oceana’s analysis calculates that discarded fish could be worth at least $1 billion annually.
Oceana is calling on government and regional fishery management council officials to reduce bycatch and immediately implement critical measures to end wasteful fishing practices. More selective fishing methods should replace harmful gear types, and improvements must be made to accurately report bycatch and reduce the amount of fish that are discarded at sea. Making key changes such as counting everything that is caught, establishing bycatch limits, and using innovative management measures to control, avoid, and reduce bycatch over time will improve the resilience and economic viability of U.S. fisheries for generations to come.