Science-Based Catch Limits Are Essential To Healthy Fisheries

Chronic overfishing has diminished the nation's fisheries for decades, at great economic and ecological costs. In 2006, a bipartisan majority in Congress took action to require fishery managers to set science-based annual catch limits (ACLs) to prevent overfishing, and accountability measures (AMs) to ensure fishermen stay within those limits. After years of efforts, and in time for the 2011 statutory deadline, fishery managers and their scientific advisors are now on the cusp of implementing these measures in every federal fishery in the country. As they approach the finish line, the Fisheries Science Improvement Act (H.R. 2304), has been introduced in Congress to weaken these requirements. Supporters of H.R. 2304 are promoting the legislation with false claims about the inadequacy of fisheries science to implement ACLs. Failure to implement science-based catch limits would derail efforts to stop overfishing and rebuild depleted fish populations to healthy levels.