Has the status of fish stocks changed?

Biomass: Average biomass ratio (B/BMSY) has been gradually increasing since the mid-1990s. The proportion of stocks with low biomass (below BMSY) has exceeded 60 percent for most years in the time series but has been declining in recent years. The proportion of stocks overfished (biomass levels below 50 percent of BMSY) has declined in recent years to levels (40 percent) comparable to those of the 1980s.

Fishing Mortality: The average ratio of F to FMSY (F/FMSY) remained above one (with overfishing occurring across stocks on average) until 2007, declined through the first year of the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program (2010), and gradually increased in recent years. In any given year, overfishing was occurring on some stocks. The proportion of stocks with high fishing mortality (levels that exceed FMSY by 50 percent or more) peaked at 82 percent in 1992-93 and during the project’s eight-year baseline period reached a high of 71 percent in 2003. It declined to 18 percent in 2013.

Have fleetwide catches stayed within quotas?

Since the Northeast Multispecies Sector Program began in 2010, the average ratio of catch to total allowable catch (TAC) (expressed here as catch-to-quota) across sector program vessels has ranged from 50 to 67 percent. Quota overages have been infrequent and small, but catch underages have been common. The annual average catch-to-quota in the common pool has been lower than for sector program vessels in each year of the catch share program (2010–2014).

Has quality of fishery data changed with changes in observer coverage?

Prior to the sector program, at-sea observers on groundfish vessels were present for less than 2 percent to 16 percent of days-at-sea each year. In 2010, the first year of the Sector Program, observer coverage increased sharply to 39 percent. In the first three years of the Sector Program (2010–2012), observers were present on more than 25 percent of days-at-sea.

Have discarding practices changed?

Based on three methods used to analyze the ratio of discards to catch, the lowest discard rate for all years of the baseline period and the catch share program occurred in 2011. However, that low point was followed by an increase in 2012. For all of the endangered, threatened, and protected species groups that we examined, there were no consistent trends in bycatch and interaction rates during the pre-sector and sector periods.

Has fishing effort changed in amount, timing, or where it occurs?

Interim results for this question are not yet available.

Have fishing impacts on seafloor habitats changed?

Interim results for this question are not yet available.

Updated: June 1, 2015