Sustainable fisheries key to strong stocks

HAENA — Sustainable fisheries were highlighted in the recently released 2018 Status of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s U.S. Fisheries Annual Report to Congress, outlining benefits of practices like those ongoing in Haena.

The Haena Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area (CBSFA) was established in 2015 after the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved the rules for the area in October 2014. Gov. David Ige’s signature made them official in 2015.

The goal was to increase fish populations in the fishing area and provide an example of how community-based, traditional management can lead to a balanced, abundant ecosystem.

Community group Hui Maka‘ainana o Makana heads up management of the area, and organizer Presley Wann said Friday that up until April 2018 floods damaged the reefs, the plan was working.

Annual monitoring reports have shown the same — an increase in fish stocks since the area was established — except for the 2019 monitoring report, which showed only a slight increase in biomass within the Haena CBSFA.

“Generally the size of the fish were smaller, (and this) had to do with the flooding,” Wann said. “But it seems to be rebuilding.”

The federal report points to the use of sustainable fisheries-management practices — reducing overfishing and inviting robust public participation — as being responsible for growing the U.S. saltwater fishing industry.

Combined, U.S. commercial and recreational saltwater fishing generated more than $212 billion in sales and supported 1.7 million jobs in 2016, according to the report.

“By ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks, we are strengthening the value of U.S. fisheries to the economy, our communities and marine ecosystems, and providing sustainable seafood for the nation,” the report says.

Overall, the report showed 28 stocks on the overfishing list, down two from 30 in 2017. The overfished list increased by eight stocks from 35 in 2017 to 43 in 2018. The list of rebuilt stocks increased by one, from 44 in 2017 to 45 in 2018.

The status of overfished means that the stock’s population size is too low to produce its maximum sustainable yield (MSY). If a stock is in the overfishing category, the harvest rate is higher than the rate that it produces its MSY.

Fisheries councils are developing management measures to end overfishing and rebuild stocks added to the overfishing and overfished lists.

In the Pacific, the report showed that bigeye tuna was removed from the overfishing list and yellowfin tuna was added to the overfishing list for the Eastern Pacific.

The report points to warming ocean conditions in some areas, as well as acidity and international harvest.


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