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Status of U.S. Fisheries

Since 1996, NOAA Fisheries has reported on the status of U.S. fisheries, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Reporting on the status of fish stocks provides fisheries managers and the public with an account of how well current fisheries management measures are working. A scientific analysis of the abundance and composition of a fish stock (stock assessment) evaluates the stock against reference points. Stock assessments use the best information available, which may include data from fisheries landings, scientific surveys, and biological studies. NOAA Fisheries uses the stock assessment and reference points to determine whether the stock is subject to overfishing or overfished. Information from the stock assessment is used by the regional fishery management council to recommend the annual catch limit for the stock.

NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Sustainable Fisheries updates the status of fish stocks managed under federal fishery management plans quarterly based on stock assessments completed during that quarter. Stock status definitions include:

These data also help NOAA Fisheries calculate its Fish Stock Sustainability Index (FSSI), which measures the performance of U.S. fish stocks selected for their importance to commercial and recreational fisheries.

Explore the links below to learn more about the status of U.S. fisheries and the FSSI:

For more information, contact the Office of Sustainable Fisheries.