The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program upgraded the
status of 21 species of bottom-dwelling fish, including varieties of
sole, rockfish and sablefish, to "best choice" or "good alternative"
from the group's "avoid" classification.
The designations allow consumers, restaurants and seafood retailers
to be confident in the sustainability of the once over-harvested
The change comes after fishing grounds off the coast of California,
Oregon and Washington state were declared an economic disaster by
the federal government in 2000. Overfishing in those areas brought
some species to dangerously low levels and caused fishing income to
"The turnaround in such a short time is unprecedented," said
Jennifer Kemmerly, director of the Seafood Watch program.
"Fishermen, federal agencies and our environmental colleagues have
put so much effort into groundfish recovery, and now we're seeing
the results of their work," she added.
The group attributed the region's revitalization to
government-imposed fishing quotas, the creation of marine protected
areas, and the use of better monitoring and control of catches.
Now, 84 percent of commercial groundfish caught off the West Coast
are sustainable options, according to the Seafood Watch program.
"This recognition highlights the success of the West Coast
groundfish catch share program," said Frank Lockhart, who heads the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's West Coast
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"Not only has it reduced impacts on the species we need to protect,
but it has allowed fishermen increased flexibility to fish more
effectively for the species they want," he said.
The West Coast's recovery mirrors improvements seen elsewhere in the
United States following updates to the federal fishery law passed by
Congress in 2006, the Seafood Watch program said.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner)
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