Rebounding U.S. fisheries provide our nation with an exciting moment of opportunity. In the past, declining stocks put fishermen out of work, kept recreational anglers off the water, and deprived seafood businesses and consumers of American-caught product. But after years of bipartisan reforms and sacrifice by fishermen willing to think long term, many depleted stocks are rebounding and fisheries-related employment is on a steady upward march.[1]

Our challenge now is to unlock the full potential of healthier American fisheries. We need to ensure that recreational anglers can enjoy the benefits of rebuilding fisheries through increased access. Commercial fishermen should see their bottom line improve as they meet growing demand for sustainable seafood. Grocery stores and restaurateurs should have the opportunity to provide high-quality product that meets consumer demand for local and fully traceable seafood. And we need to improve our ability to respond quickly and effectively to changing ocean conditions. We can do all these things with accurate, precise, timely and readily accessible data.

The modernization and streamlining of fishery information systems is a critical fisheries challenge facing the Trump administration and 115th Congress. It will be pivotal in determining not only whether we can sustain our progress in returning U.S. fisheries to health, but also whether we can unlock the full potential of this vital natural resource. There is broad agreement that attention focused here will benefit both fishing businesses and consumers, and help ensure a healthy resource into the future. Our taskforce was established with the goal of promoting efforts to meet this information challenge. This report reviews progress to date, assesses the experiences of fisheries stakeholders, considers best practices from elsewhere, and makes recommendations for how the National Marine Fisheries Service can work with partners to move us forward.

You can download the full report here.

[1] National Marine Fisheries Service. 2016. Fisheries Economics of the United States, 2014. U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-F/SPO-163.