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A Message from Sam Rauch, Head of NOAA Fisheries

U.S. Fisheries Reach Another Milestone as Last Annual Catch Limit is Put in Place
July 2, 2012

On June 29, 2012, a significant milestone was achieved when NOAA Fisheries approved the last Fishery Management Plan amendment putting annual catch limits and accountability measures into place. This milestone completes a journey that began in January 2007, when President George W. Bush signed the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act into law. The law required that all federal fisheries be harvested under annual catch limits with accompanying accountability measures to prevent and end overfishing in the United States 

While new to some fisheries, many U.S. fisheries, particularly off the coasts of Alaska and the Northwest, have been managed under catch limits for decades, resulting in some of the world’s most sustainably managed fisheries, and the nation’s most economically vibrant fishing communities. 

We are already seeing positive results developing in other fisheries since ACLs were implemented. For example, look at the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery—an overfished stock that has been subject to chronic overfishing for years. For the first time since this stock’s status was assessed, we determined that overfishing has ended and see signs that the stock is rebuilding. 

Over the next few years as fisheries continue to be managed under annual catch limits and new scientific stock assessments are completed, we expect to confirm that overfishing has ended and that depleted stocks are rebuilding to higher levels of abundance.   

Ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks is an investment in the long-term viability of our fisheries and fishing communities. While these benefits will accrue for generations to come, we recognize that the transition to annual catch limits is not always easy – particularly in cases that required reductions from previous levels. The fishermen and communities impacted by these management changes are to be commended for their commitment and participation in making U.S. fisheries among the most responsibly managed fisheries in the world.

On behalf of NOAA Fisheries, I want to thank the eight regional fishery management councils, our fishermen, fishing communities, the science community, and others for their personal investment and dedication to achieving this national stewardship goal. I look forward to continuing to work together as we end overfishing and look to the future of fully rebuilt fisheries.  

Samuel D. Rauch III
Acting Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries