Improving the Science and Management of Data-Limited Fisheries

An Evaluation of Current Methods and Recommended Approaches

Congress amended the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) in 2006 to require annual catch limits (ACL) for most federally-managed fish stocks by 2011, with the goals of ending overfishing, improving accountability within the fisheries management system, and encouraging research into more precise assessment methods (U.S. Senate, 2006). Meeting this mandate required fishery managers to establish new mechanisms for setting ACLs for hundreds of previously unassessed stocks and stock complexes, a considerable undertaking that required substantial resources of time and energy by the regional fishery management councils, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), stock assessment scientists, and technical advisors.