Set the Rules to End Overfishing

Overfishing has been an ongoing problem that is threatening to destroy the inhabitants of our oceans - but if we act now, we can set the rules to permanently end overfishing!

With broad public support in December 2006, Congress passed a law that requires an end to overfishing by 2011. In June 2008, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposed rules to put this law into effect and achieve its bold goal. While the NMFS proposal takes great strides toward meeting this important goal, critical loopholes remain.

NMFS must clarify the rule to require science-based catch limits that include buffers and protect the most vulnerable fish stocks. If these provisions are added to the proposal, we can help save our oceans and stop overfishing.

Before the September 22 deadline, ask NMFS to close the overfishing loopholes!
Dear Mr. Millikin,

I'd like to thank you and your agency for your new annual catch limit proposal which represents an important step forward in fisheries management. With some modifications the final rule will provide managers with a roadmap for finally ending overfishing in U.S. ocean waters.

I think it's great that NMFS has created a framework based on science and accountability, but I ask that the agency clarify the rule to ensure that managers are required to follow the advice of their scientific advisors in all cases when setting catch limits. Your rule should also require buffers to account for scientific and management uncertainty. It is critical for the health of ocean ecosystems to ensure that poorly-studied fish stocks will not be subject to overfishing. Where multiple fish stocks are managed together as a "complex," please ensure that the catch limit for the complex is not based on the health of stronger stocks at the expense of weaker ones.

I applaud the National Marine Fisheries Service for proposing stronger guidelines to rebuild overfished stocks as quickly as possible. By requiring science-based decisions, buffers to guard against uncertainty, and stronger protections for weak fish stocks, your rule will ensure an end to overfishing by 2011 and healthy fisheries for generations to come.

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Thank you for your time and consideration.
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