Washington, DC- Today, Oceana sent a response to the Council Coordination Committee (CCC) for the eight United States regional fishery management councils addressing its comments on Oceana’s March 2014 report Wasted Catch: Unsolved Problems in U.S. Fisheries. Oceana’s report is based on the most comprehensive and up-to-date government data.
Oceana’s Responsible Fishing campaign director Dominique Cano-Stocco released the following statement:
“The CCC would like us to paint a pretty picture of an ugly problem. While steps have been taken to decrease bycatch in U.S. fisheries, there is still a long way to go to get to the finish line. U.S. fisheries still catch a disturbing number of whales, dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, seabirds, sharks and non-target fish, threatening the stability of healthy fish populations and marine ecosystems. The facts speak for themselves. The nine fisheries we identify in our report throw away almost half of what they catch and are responsible for more than 50 percent of all reported bycatch in the U.S.
In its response to Oceana’s report, the CCC asserts that the numbers we use from the federal government’s National Bycatch Report (NBR) are lacking in sufficient detail. In fact, we agree--improving that government report is one of the solutions we call for in Wasted Catch. We need better quality data and more consistent national reporting so an accurate picture of our nation’s fisheries can be presented to the public. However, since most fishery data are not shared or reported in a consistent manner, the best tool we have to report on nationwide bycatch is the NBR.
Bycatch harms ocean wildlife, wastes important food resources and undercuts the economic success of our nation’s fisheries. There is little value in arguing about whether we are at mile five or mile nine of this fishery management marathon. The future health of our nation’s fisheries would be better served by the CCC working together with the National Marine Fisheries Service and Oceana to fix the bycatch problems that remain. Oceana looks forward to doing that, including working with the eight fishery management councils to improve bycatch reporting and data quality in all U.S. fisheries in the future. Together, we can reduce wasted catch in U.S. fisheries.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.