New marine management rules may hamper restoration of fisheries

The National Marine Fisheries Service has released new guidelines for restoring depleted fish stocks, but some friends of the finned worry the rules may unduly favor the fishing industry. Current rules mandate that regional fisheries managers aim to restore stocks within 10 years. The newly proposed rules would let them devise variable timelines for fishery restoration based on how long it would take a stock to rebound if there were no fishing, plus the average time it takes the species to reach spawning age. This may lengthen the time managers have to restore some stocks, which fisheries expert Andrew Rosenberg terms “a biological risk.” The new rules would also allow coordinated management of different species that live, swim, and get netted together, assuming that fish with similar life histories will respond to similar management plans. But this is shortsighted, says Rosenberg: “[A] species might be minor to a commercial fishery but still play a key role in an ecosystem; we are only worrying about the things we like to eat right now.”