West Coast rockfish population rebuild project a success, NOAA says

Seafood Source –

West Coast fishing communities earned millions of dollars from a trial program allowing fishermen to cash in on rebounding rockfish populations, NOAA announced last month.

Exempted fishing permits (EFPs) were granted to a number of vessels under the trial period, which brought in almost 14 million pounds of fish, with the aim being taking some of the strain off overfished species such as salmon. The catch brought in USD 5.5 million (EUR 4.9 million) in additional revenue, according to Lori Steele, the executive director of the West Coast Seafood Processors Association.

“We were eager for groundfish vessels to take advantage of healthy stocks and high quotas as quickly as possible while being sensitive to the need to minimize interactions with salmon and other protected species,” Steele said. “NOAA Fisheries stepped up and helped us design this EFP to provide fishing opportunities and collect important information the agency needed.”

The healthiness of the rockfish population marks a shift from when the fishery was overfished in the 1990s. To help the fishery recover, the NOAA Fisheries along with the Pacific Fishery Management Council, changed the fishery to “catch shares,” which allowed each fisherman a portion of the allowable catch. The move freed the fishermen from having to compete with one another to haul in the most catch.

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