MOBILE, AL- Today, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced it will be taking steps to more accurately analyze the amount and type of wasted catch in Gulf and Southeast region fisheries. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary law governing fisheries in the United States, every federally managed fishery must have a standardized way to collect and report the amount of bycatch that occurs in the fishery. Currently, however, the fisheries managed by the Gulf of Mexico and Southeast Fishery Management Councils do not have a plan to put this requirement in place. Oceana recommended developing a bycatch reporting plan for the region last month, and is pleased the federal government is moving forward with a proposal to better address the amount of wasted catch in our nation’s fisheries.
In a report released last spring, Oceana identified nine of the most wasteful fisheries in the United States, which included two from the Southeast and Gulf region. The Southeast snapper-grouper longline fishery is estimated to discard two-thirds of its catch every year, including $3 million worth of red grouper and more than 400,000 sharks in one year. Meanwhile, the Southeast shrimp trawl fishery is responsible for killing thousands of sea turtles every year, throwing away 64 percent of its catch every year. This wasted catch is estimated to be worth $100 million.
Oceana Fisheries Program Manager Gib Brogan released the following statement:
“To understand the full scope of wasted catch in our nation’s fisheries, fisheries managers and the public must have access to recent, accurate and precise reports of catch in every fishery. This announcement by NMFS is a good first step towards ultimately decreasing the amount of bycatch in our fisheries.
Without standardized protocols, bycatch will continue to be mismanaged. Accurate bycatch reporting is a critical tool in modern fisheries management because it allows fisheries managers to recognize bycatch problems as they are happening and take action. This can prevent the unnecessary deaths of sea turtles, dolphins and porpoises as well as help to reduce thousands of dollars in wasted fish.
We applaud NMFS for taking the first steps to get a better understanding of the amount of bycatch occurring in Gulf and Southeast fisheries, and we look forward to seeing these measures put to work to help restore ocean ecosystems.”
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.