Overfishing 101: A Beginner's Guide to Understanding U.S. Fishery Management

Overfishing 101: A Beginner's Guide to Understanding U.S. Fishery Management

The United States has the largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world, containing 3.4 million square miles of ocean and 90,000 miles of coastline. Throughout this vast underwater realm, fish play an essential role in the interconnected web of life on which we depend. In fact, they are one of America's most valuable natural resources, adding billions to the U.S. economy and supporting millions of jobs through fishing and recreation.

Unfortunately, overfishing — taking fish from our oceans faster than they can reproduce — has plagued U.S. oceans for decades and continues today. This squanders valuable fish populations and weakens ocean ecosystems, making them more vulnerable to problems like pollution, natural disturbances and climate change.

The good news is that we have a strong law in place in the United States governing how fish are managed in federal waters, and serious efforts are underway to end overfishing and rebuild depleted populations. The Pew Environment Group supports these goals through our work at the federal and regional levels of government, where decisions are made about these invaluable marine resources.

Fishermen, conservationists and scientists have actively debated how best to manage our ocean fish populations for decades. But with so much at stake, it's critical that as many Americans as possible be actively engaged in this discussion. The “Overfishing 101” blog series aims to do just that by providing a new outlet, in which we hope to open up the discussion to the larger public, cut through the rhetoric and encourage more people to participate in marine fish conservation.

In coming posts, I will cover the basic state of our nation's ocean fish populations, explore policies that can help safeguard them for future generations and dispel some myths about how current U.S. fisheries policy is made. In addition, the series will feature insights from independent experts and partners working with Pew, as well as interactive web content, such as videos and other online resources related to ocean fish and fishing.

More About Us

The Federal Fisheries Policy Project leads efforts to ensure that Congress and the National Marine Fisheries Service effectively implement the law to end overfishing, rebuild depleted fish populations and protect ocean ecosystems.

The campaign works closely with scientists, policy makers, fishery managers, fishermen and conservation organizations throughout the country to promote adequate funding and support current fish conservation mandates.

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