PORTLAND, Maine – The federal government has added several populations of economically important food fish, including stocks of salmon and flounder, to its list of fish stocks that are being subjected to overfishing.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that three regional populations of Chinook salmon and one regional population each of Coho salmon, summer flounder, yellowtail flounder and winter flounder are suffering from overfishing.
NOAA produces an annual update of its list of fish that are either subject to overfishing or have been overfished to the point where populations are too low. The report informs conservation and management efforts.
Overall, the number of fish on the “overfishing” list climbed from 26 to 28, and the number on the “overfished” list rose from 37 to 38.
SALMON IN JEOPARDY
The Chinook salmon populations that are being added to the overfishing list are along the Washington coast and in the Columbia River Basin of the Pacific Northwest. The Coho salmon population also is located along the Washington coast.
Both are popular as wild-caught fish. The Chinook fishery was worth more than $70 million in 2014, and the Coho fishery was worth nearly $55 million that year.
Alan Risenhoover, the director of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Sustainable Fisheries, said climate condition such as drought have affected the fish.
“Hopefully, measures will be in place to help those stocks,” he said.
SOME SPECIES RECOVERING
Two species were added to the “rebuilt” list of fisheries. They both are Pacific species – the canary rockfish and Petrale sole.
Fishermen caught more than 5.2 million pounds of Petrale sole in 2014, the most since 2006. The canary rockfish fishery is much smaller, accounting for only about 41,000 pounds that year.
A THORNY ISSUE
One species that is being removed from the overfishing list, the thorny skate, is up for potential protection under the Endangered Species Act. Risenhoover said the fish’s new status will be taken into account during the review process.
A handful of other species also were removed from the overfishing list, including the greater amberjack of the Gulf of Mexico and winter skate of Georges Bank and southern New England.
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