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Rebuilding Plans

When NOAA Fisheries determines that a stock is overfished, the relevant regional fishery management council (council) must implement a plan to rebuild it to the level that can support maximum sustainable yield (MSY). A typical rebuilding plan allows fishing to continue, but at a reduced level so that the stock will increase to the target level that supports MSY.

The graph below helps illustrate the concept of a rebuilding stock. A stock that is declared overfished—with a population size below the blue line—must have a rebuilding plan in place. The goal of that plan is to grow the stock to its target size—the orange line. The time between when the rebuilding plan goes in place and reaching the orange line is the stock’s rebuilding period. The time to achieve a rebuilt status will vary, depending on the individual stock.

In 2015, we rebuilt two Pacific groundfish stocks—canary rockfish and petrale sole—for a total of 39 rebuilt stocks since 2000. Successful rebuilding plans for both stocks included a variety of management measures.

For canary rockfish, fishery managers revised catch limits and used fishery closures to reduce catch while the stock rebuilt. Managers also reduced fishing access to other species often found in the same place as canary rockfish.

Reduced catch levels are credited with helping the petrale sole stock rebuild. Recent scientific estimates show that the petrale sole stock is above its target stock size for the first time since the early 1960s.

As a result of these rebuilding successes, fishermen can look forward to fewer restrictions when fishing for canary rockfish and petrale sole and higher catch limits for canary rockfish. Read more in the 2015 Report to Congress.

Rebuilding Trends

To track trends in rebuilding, NOAA Fisheries uses analyses from scientific assessments to plot the fishing mortality rate of a rebuilding stock over time. The stock's population biomass is also plotted to see how it corresponds with changes in fishing mortality. This trends analysis helps illustrate the progress of stocks that can take decades to rebuild. 

Explore the Latest Rebuilding Trends

Trends Analysis for Fish Stocks in Rebuilding Plans in 2015

Not Subject to Overfishing: Subject to Overfishing:
To see past trends analyses, visit the Trends Analysis Archive web page.