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NOAA Honors Fishery Management Councils

On January 30, 2012, NOAA and NOAA Fisheries honored the eight fishery management councils for their role in shaping the science-based management of U.S. fisheries and the historic milestone to be achieved this year with the implementation of annual catch limits on all federally managed fisheries. These eight councils and the challenges unique to each of their regions, have developed the diverse innovations in management and science that defines U.S. fisheries.

Presided over by the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., recognized each council with a plaque for their unique contributions to managing the nation’s fisheries.

“In recognition of the Council’s commitment and exemplary public service to the nation by establishing annual catch limits to prevent overfishing, strengthen science-based management and ensure sustainability of our nation’s fisheries. "

The North Pacific Council are innovators of many science and management tools that are now hallmarks of sustainably managed fisheries. Once known for its “race-for-fish,” today the North Pacific has become the model for sustainable fisheries worldwide. It is home to some of the largest, most sustainable fisheries feeding the world.

The Pacific Council has a rich history of leading the way to help build the responsive management strategies we see today. Early on, they committed to science-based management. They set conservative harvests in times of uncertainty. They embraced cooperative efforts with fishermen to innovate management strategies and scientific research. The result? A West coast groundfish fishery that is one of the most progressive management plans for rebuilding vulnerable species and sustainably harvesting others, while keeping fishermen in their jobs.

The Western Pacific council takes complexity to a whole new level. This region is vast: international waters, multiple island-nation cultures, diverse socio-economic demographics, and a broad spectrum of fisheries – from artisanal to recreational to commercial. It is also home to some of the most diverse and fragile marine habitats, charismatic and protected marine species, and iconic highly migratory fisheries. The Western Pacific Council has provided strong leadership on our international Pacific Basin sustainable fishery efforts.

The Gulf of Mexico has been a battleground for a number of high profile challenges – from bycatch, complex allocation issues between recreational and commercial fishermen, to repeated disasters – both natural and man-made. Through numerous challenges, the Gulf Council was and still is a proving ground for cooperative research, development of bycatch reduction technologies, and remote monitoring that have moved sustainable fishing practices forward.

The Caribbean Council reaches out to the global community of island nations on sustainable management of marine resources. These communities are intimately connected to the natural world around them. But they are not always in tune with the global impacts of the choices they make. Through the council process, the Caribbean is now an important partner in tackling the complex ecological and economic challenges facing our Caribbean fishing communities.

The South Atlantic Council experienced some of the more difficult challenges of balancing recreational and commercial uses in some of our nation’s older fisheries. Despite these challenges, the south Atlantic recognized early on the need for ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management. Some of the earliest strategies for protecting valuable fish and coral habitats, while allowing for sustainable fishing, were implemented in the South Atlantic.

The Mid-Atlantic Council is unique: seven densely populated states, federally managed fisheries in both state and federal waters, and fisheries shared by recreational and commercial users. The Mid-Atlantic Council navigates the complexity of closely coordinating with many states across multiple needs to advance and achieve the national goals for sustainably managing their shared fisheries.

As home to the nation’s iconic ‘founding fish’ – cod – the New England Council represents our nation’s oldest fisheries and the culture and communities that embody them. Inheriting the results of hundreds of years of chronic overfishing, more than any other council, New England has been an architect in building the bridges between fishing practices of the past and sustainable practices for a future. It has been a long and difficult road. I commend everyone on the council for their contributions to achieving our national goal.

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