Fish also sustain our bodies. Billions of people rely on seafood for protein, and from fishermen to chefs, many depend on seafood to earn their living.
But the ocean’s supply can’t keep up with our growing human demands. From once plentiful cod and key species of rockfish to majestic sharks, species are dramatically declining because we’ve taken too many fish out of the water and left too few behind to reproduce. Overfishing is not only harming fish, it is harming the fishermen, coastal economies and ecosystems that are dependent on them.
Ocean Conservancy has worked for more than 20 years to support sustainable U.S. fisheries. It’s in everyone’s best interest—distributors, retailers, fishermen and consumers—to restore the ocean’s bounty and strengthen our coastal economies.
Our partnerships with fishermen have led to new policies to help make fish plentiful now and into the future—and they are successful. According to a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fisheries report, we are turning the corner on overfishing. The catch by American fishermen has reached a 17-year high. The evidence can be seen in signature species -- red snapper are recovering in the Gulf of Mexico and lingcod is coming back on the Pacific Coast.
We’re creating a model other countries can follow to better protect fish worldwide. But recovery takes time. We can’t relax the measures in place. The science tells us we have to hold the line on successful policies and practices to ensure that vulnerable species thrive long into the future. We continue to work with fishermen to keep our nation’s fisheries laws strong to ensure continued success.
Our work doesn’t stop there. We’re helping connect fishermen and seafood buyers who want to purchase sustainably caught seafood. We’re contributing to a shared vision where retailers, restaurant chains and other seafood businesses support good fishing practices—so we never again catch fish faster than they can reproduce.
We have also created incentives that reward fishermen when they use practices that protect ocean ecosystems. We’re helping introduce shrimp fishing gear that reduces environmental impacts, including the number of fish and endangered sea turtles that are caught and killed incidentally. These innovations are more fuel-efficient as well, helping fishermen save on fuel costs and reduce their carbon emissions at the same time.
We’re restoring the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, which supports an estimated $22.6 billion in seafood, commercial fishing and recreational fishing related activity. Along the California coast, we’ve helped create an extensive network of marine protected areas, underwater parks that provide havens where fish can thrive, and we continue to build on our long history of fisheries conservation work in the state. Beyond California, we’re working with a range of partners and stakeholders to monitor and address the emerging threat of ocean acidification, already impacting oyster growers on the Pacific Coast.
Ocean Conservancy's Chris Dorsett answers five questions about NOAA's fisheries management plans for the Gulf of Mexico.
It's time to say no to loopholes, and yes to responsible, science-based fisheries management.