WASHINGTON, June 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) welcomed news today that the vast majority of U.S. fisheries are sustainably managed. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) "Status of Fisheries of the United States" report, 81 percent of fish stocks assessed for 2005 are sustainably managed and one stock in the Pacific Northwest, Lingcod, has been fully rebuilt three years ahead of schedule. "The bottom line is: if the species of fish is in the store or on the menu, the stock is available to meet consumer demand," said NFI President John Connelly. "It is our industry's goal to ensure our products will be available to American consumers for years to come and this new report highlights our efforts to achieve that." Of the 206 stocks assessed this year, about three-quarters of those stocks are healthy. Six fish stocks with previously low populations are now rebuilt and considered sustainable. Stocks that have been assessed with a low sustainable population will undergo a rebuilding plan developed by the regional fishery management councils to restore the fish to sustainable levels. "A fish stock categorized as 'overfished' doesn't mean it is on the verge of extinction," said Connelly. "Imagine you're driving and you're low on gas but know that you have many miles to drive before hitting empty. Just as you want to replenish your gas supply before getting to 'E,' fisheries managers put plans in place to replenish fish species before stocks are threatened. The 'overfished' determination factors in a safety margin that ensures the fish population will be able to recover." As in the past, this year's findings demonstrate the continued effort by NOAA Fisheries, along with commercial and recreational fishermen, to support sustainable harvesting of this nutritious and affordable protein source. "Experts in our industry, with years of experience and knowledge, are committed to continued collaboration with government officials, community representatives, conservationists and others involved in the regional council process," Connelly continued. "We look forward to continued progress in the future." Under NOAA Fisheries, the federal government oversees a system of eight regional fishery management councils covering fisheries from Maine to Hawaii. The decision-making authority rests with these regional councils, which are comprised of representatives of the various sectors involved in fisheries. The diversity of interests represented on the councils has helped ensure all parties have a voice in the regulatory process. NFI is the leading trade association for the seafood industry whose members represent a variety of businesses ranging from the water to the table. For more information visit our website at http://www.AboutSeafood.com.
SOURCE National Fisheries Institute