Supporting healthy ocean ecosystems
ocean health along the U.S. West Coast
The icy waters of the North Pacific are among the most productive waters on the planet, a tremendous natural resource that supports sustainable commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries. Nurtured by a history of forward-thinking management, the fisheries of Alaska include among others, wild salmon surging out of the rivers and streams of the state’s vast interior; king crab caught by the adventurous fishermen depicted on the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch”; and immense schools of walleye pollock that compose America’s single largest fishery. It’s no wonder Alaskans are determined to pass on this cultural and economic legacy to future generations.
Pew is currently working with federal decision makers to help them develop a fishery ecosystem plan for the Bering Sea. First recommended by an advisory panel called for as part of the 1996 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, fishery ecosystem plans have not been legally required. They were envisioned as a mechanism for incorporating ecosystem-based science into the fisheries management structure to regulate fishing based on its impact to the ecosystem as a whole, rather than focusing on individual fish stocks in isolation.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has long been recognized as a leader in the use of science-based catch limits and precautionary management actions. The Council was also one of the first to embrace the concept of ecosystem-based management by developing a fishery ecosystem plan for the Aleutian Islands. With an increasing awareness of how fisheries impact – and are impacted by – the broader ecosystem in which they operate, new management tools are available to best inform the decisions made by the council. By developing a fishery ecosystem plan for the Bering Sea, the council can bring these tools to bear on the fisheries management process and help ensure a healthy ocean and sustainable fisheries for generations to come.
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If you’ve ever used a fitness tracker, you understand how real-time monitoring and feedback can change what you do. When it comes to bycatch—the incidental catch of nontarget species and a long-standing problem in fisheries—the same concept holds. Read More
Puffin chicks on Alaska’s Aleutian Islands might not be the first thing to come to mind if your task is to set next year’s fishery catch limits for the enormous and productive eastern Bering Sea. But how successfully these charismatic creatures are reproducing from year to year provides surprisingly important clues about the status of the overall ecosystem—including fish... Read More
If fishermen had their way, the only thing on their hooks or in their nets would be what they were trying to catch: the target fish. But fishing is rarely that simple. Different kinds of fish swim together, and anyone who’s ever heard of dolphin-safe tuna knows that sometimes fishing can capture other species, such as marine mammals and birds. Read More
Reasons major U.S. fishing law should shift to big picture management