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NOAA Fisheries is pleased to present the 2021 Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries. This report highlights the achievements of NOAA Fisheries, the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils (Councils), and our other partners. In 2021, the number of stocks on the overfishing list held steady, the number of overfished stocks slightly increased, and we maintained progress in rebuilding. We continue to assess the status of new stocks and implement management measures that will sustain our fisheries for future generations. Sound science, innovative management approaches, effective enforcement, meaningful partnerships, and public engagement are the core concepts that contribute to our approach.
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NOAA Fisheries manages 460 stocks or stock complexes in 46 fishery management plans. At the end of 2021, there were 26 stocks on the overfishing list and 51 on the overfished list. One stock that was rebuilt in 2013, and became overfished again, was rebuilt again this year. Since 2000, 47 stocks have been rebuilt.
NOAA Fisheries conducted a stock assessment for one previously unassessed stock in 2021. Atlantic blacktip shark was determined to be not subject to overfishing and not overfished. Assessing previously unknown stocks significantly contributes to the science-based information used to set appropriate management measures.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is the primary law that governs marine fisheries management in federal waters, and under this law the United States is an international leader in fisheries management. In 2006, Congress added a requirement to use annual catch limits to end and prevent overfishing. In 2021, 90 percent of all stocks or complexes did not exceed their annual catch limits. When catch limit overages occur, NOAA Fisheries and the Councils take steps to ensure overages do not continue. Monitoring catch levels and keeping them within acceptable limits on an annual basis helps reduce the chance of overfishing and ensures long-term biological and economic sustainability
Stocks added to the 2021 overfishing and overfished lists are examples of the challenges we face in fisheries management. This year, new data, improved assessment methodologies, and updated stock assessments provided new information that showed some stocks are now overfished and subject to overfishing. For example, updated survey data showed Bering Sea snow crab abundance has dropped by more than 50 percent in the past 2 years and the stock is now overfished. Scientists hypothesize the decline could be caused by disease, predation by Pacific cod, or movement outside the survey area into deeper or Russian waters. A new, more accurate method was applied to the Gulf of Mexico gag stock assessment, which found the stock was overfished and subject to overfishing. In addition, new information was incorporated into the South Atlantic gag stock assessment, which found the stock was overfished and subject to overfishing. These results, while negative, give fisheries managers better information to manage these stocks. Finally, several Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic stocks that had not been assessed in several years showed that they are now subject to overfishing. Fisheries managers will use the results of these new assessments to develop appropriate stock-specific measures that will end overfishing immediately and rebuild stocks.
Climate change continues to impact fish stocks, challenging our ability to effectively manage and rebuild stocks. Despite these challenges, working with our partners and stakeholders, we continually adapt our management response with innovative solutions using the most updated scientific information available. We are committed to reducing the number of stocks that are overfished and subject to overfishing, and to rebuilding stocks that support sustainable fisheries in our changing climate.
When a stock becomes overfished, a Council (or, for Atlantic highly migratory species, NOAA Fisheries) must develop a rebuilding plan to rebuild the stock to a sustainable target level. Typically, the plan allows fishing to continue at a reduced level so the stock can rebuild to its target level and produce its MSY. This approach keeps fishermen and waterfronts working while stocks rebuild.
Forty-five stocks or stock complexes are currently in rebuilding plans. NOAA Fisheries monitors rebuilding stocks and, through the Council process, adjusts management measures to increase stock abundance to a target level that supports MSY. When a rebuilding stock increases above the overfished threshold, the stock is removed from the overfished list but remains under its rebuilding plan until it is fully rebuilt. Currently, of 45 stocks with rebuilding plans, six are no longer overfished but continue to be managed under rebuilding plans.
A scientific analysis of the abundance and composition of a fish stock, as well as the degree of fishing intensity, is called a stock assessment. Stock assessments are subject to regional peer review as part of the process to ensure that management decisions are based on the best scientific information available. In fiscal year 2021, NOAA Fisheries conducted 170 stock assessments.
Fishery management plans must specify objective and measurable criteria, called reference points, to determine if a stock is overfished or subject to overfishing. The Councils and NOAA Fisheries use information from stock assessments to calculate reference points and determine whether catch limits have successfully ended or prevented overfishing and whether a stock is overfished. Outside the stock assessment process, NOAA Fisheries may also use a comparison of catch to the overfishing limit to determine if a stock is subject to overfishing. If the catch-to-overfishing-limit comparison is used, an overfishing determination is made annually. If a stock assessment is used, due to timing of the next stock assessment it may take several years before we are able to determine if catch limits successfully ended overfishing.
We rely on our partners to help solve research questions and improve our understanding of the fisheries we manage. Scientists and anglers recently teamed up to study the relationship between deep-sea coral habitat and queen snapper in the Caribbean. They also discovered that queen snapper reach a maximum age of 45 years, not the previously estimated 8 years. This information significantly revises our understanding of queen snapper that can be used in future stock assessments. Another cooperative research project found that some deepwater rockfish have a 90 percent survival rate if returned to the water using a weighted line that releases the fish at the depth it was caught. These findings will be shared widely with recreational anglers to encourage the use of descending devices to reduce mortality of released fish.
NOAA Fisheries continues to incorporate new information and methodologies to respond to climate change that threatens our ocean fisheries. Climate change can increase harmful algal blooms, reduce ecosystem productivity, impact organisms that have skeletons or shells, and cause shifts in the Gulf Stream. This year NOAA Fisheries released its first ecosystem status report for the South Atlantic Region, which documents environmental changes in the South Atlantic. Information from this new report and existing ecosystem status reports for other regions will be used to track changes in complex ocean conditions, understand the correlation between environmental conditions and fisheries, and support advances toward ecosystem-based fisheries management. New modeling methods have also been developed to predict how marine heatwaves could impact important fish stocks, such as Gulf of Alaska cod and pollock. This new method will allow fishery managers to develop resilient management appropriate for future environmental conditions.
NOAA Fisheries continues to engage with partners to accomplish the work necessary to keep fisheries thriving across the country. We are committed to working with Congress, the Councils, our state partners, and other stakeholders to end overfishing and rebuild stocks so that our sustainable fisheries continue to support a strong economy.
To track trends in rebuilding, NOAA Fisheries uses analyses from scientific assessments to plot the fishing mortality rate of a rebuilding stock over time. The stock's population biomass is also plotted to see how it corresponds with changes in fishing mortality. This trends analysis helps illustrate the progress of stocks that can take decades to rebuild.
The first convention, signed by Livingston, Monroe, and Barbé-Marbois, detailed how the United States would pay the $11,250,000 (sixty million francs) in stock with an interest rate of 6 percent and not redeemable for fifteen years.
Now the real work of implementing the treaty and the two conventions began. Because of a possible war with England, French banks would neither buy nor market the American stock. So Livingston and Monroe suggested that two firms, Baring and Company of London and Hope and Company of Amsterdam, conduct the sale of the stock.
Hoping the suggestion would be viewed favorably, between May 3 and May 5, 1803, Alexander Baring of Baring and Company was given powers of attorney by both companies for entering into negotiations with France and the United States. On May 28, Barbé-Marbois and the American ministers exchanged correspondence relating to what was now called the American Fund. France approved the suggestion and signed a contract with Baring and Company and Hope and Company for the negotiation of the American Fund, witnessed by Livingston and Monroe, on June 6. On the same day, Barbé-Marbois wrote to Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin that Baring would be arriving in America to begin the transfer of stock.
On December 1, Baring asked Gallatin for the stock to be issued, with receipts ($3,750,000 for Baring and $7,500,000 for Midshipman John B. Nicholson to be delivered to Lt. James Leonard for delivery to Livingston in Paris; Livingston would give a receipt to Leonard upon receiving the stock). 041b061a72