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Annual catch limits a boon to replenish stocks, NOAA says

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Some 18 percent of fisheries are overfished and 34 stocks have been rebuilt since 2000. So testified Samuel Rauch, deputy assistant administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Rauch was speaking at at a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee on reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation & Management Act.

You can read or watch the testimony at http://naturalresources.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=367382.

Rauch said that NOAA had not completed its review of proposed reauthorization legislation. But he said that the annual catch limits prescribed in the act’s last reauthorization in 2007 have helped replenish stocks of many fish.

“Prior to the implementation of annual catch limits, a number of rebuilding plans experienced difficulty in ending overfishing and achieving the fishing mortality rate called for in the plan,” Rauch testified. He said it helps to set catch limits for all stocks, not just those in danger of overfishing.

But he acknowledged that the process needs improving. NOAA needs better information on ecological factors such as climate change, ocean acidification and how natural disasters affect fisheries.

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