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NOAA Fisheries Provides Additional Clarifications on Guidelines Designed to End Overfishing

Earlier this year, in its revised National Standard 1 Guidelines, NOAA Fisheries published final guidance that is designed to help end overfishing and rebuild federally managed marine fish stocks. The guidance outlines a system of annual catch limits and accountability measures to prevent annual catch limits from being exceeded, and to address such a situation quickly if it does occur. It also includes provisions on accounting for scientific and management uncertainty.

Annual catch limits are required in fishing year 2010 for U.S. commercial and recreational fisheries subject to overfishing, and in fishing year 2011 for all other fisheries. These requirements were set forth in the 2006 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law in January 2007. NOAA Fisheries, the eight regional fishery management councils, and participants in the fisheries have already taken significant steps toward ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks in recent years.

The National Standard 1 Guidelines provide the foundation for ending overfishing, yet they are designed to be flexible in order to accommodate a broad range of differences among fisheries around the country. In order to provide additional clarification, NOAA Fisheries has developed a set of questions and answers that discuss some common questions that have arisen on the guidelines. Some of the questions that are addressed in the Q&A document include the following: How should the Councils consider and address the risk of overfishing? What can be done in cases where we lack catch data for a given stock? How can we manage fisheries with mixed stocks, when some of the species are overfished and some aren't? Are there any exceptions to the legal requirement for an annual catch limit?

For more information, visit: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/msa2007/catchlimits.htm

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