What we have achieved, however, is an industry culture that strives to keep commercial species healthy and improve management year over year. That may not be specific enough for some, but it is working. We may not have ended overfishing, but we most certainly have put a stake through the heart of the trends that led to it in the first place. We have turned the ship around.
With our course set on improving fishery management, data and gear, we have established an effective management system. If we choose to ignore common sense and good data and instead focus on a mythical perfect balance, we will all lose access to our national resource — commercial, recreational and charter.
No one can say what “balance” means in a world that is constantly changing of its own accord. We can only speculate on what is out of balance.
The trap of “best available science” is essentially a loophole that leaves all the onus on the fleets, whether or not they are to blame.
We have Magnuson mandates that specify rebuilding time lines. But where is the mandate that we must have current data on species in order to rectify their perceived condition?
The true critical step in improving fishery management is improving data and expanding the lines of communication between fishermen and regulators, not simply relying on whatever information we have because that’s all Magnuson requires us to do.