Lee Crockett, director of Federal Fisheries Policy at the Pew Environment Group, today issued the following statement in response to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) closing its comment period on its annual catch limit proposed rule.
“When Congress reauthorized the Magnuson-Stevens Act in late 2006, it wanted to finally put an end to overfishing. It's clear that the National Marine Fisheries Service has taken this priority seriously and has made a good faith effort to translate the intent of Congress into regulations that describe in detail how to establish annual catch limits that will protect and help rebuild struggling fish populations.
“This proposal represents a sound regulatory framework based on science and accountability. It sets numeric catch limits and targets based on sound science designed to prevent overfishing. The proposed rule also maintains and strengthens existing guidelines for rebuilding depleted fish populations.
“While there are several positive components to this proposal, NMFS needs to ensure that certain loopholes are removed from the final regulation so that the main goals of the proposal are not undermined. The proposal needs to require managers to account for scientific uncertainty when setting catch limits and must not allow overfishing. We're hopeful that with some modifications, this proposed rule will provide a road map for finally ending overfishing.”