The fifth National Scientific and Statistical Committee (NSSC) Workshop was convened to allow discussions among the eight regional Scientific and Statistical Committees (SSCs) regarding the central-theme of “Providing Scientific Advice in the Face of Uncertainty in Data and Climate.” The workshop aimed to initiate inter-regional discussion on five subthemes:
- Specifying Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) for Data-Limited and Model-Resistant Stocks;
- Implementing National Standard 2 in the Face of Uncertainty;
- Evaluating Existing ABC Control Rules: Issues, Challenges and Solutions;
- Incorporating Ecological, Environmental, and Climate Variability in Stock Assessment and Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management;
- Building Habitat Conditions into the Stock Assessment Process and Fishery Management Strategies.
SSCs now have several years of experience in specifying Acceptable Biological Catches (ABCs) based on deliberations in the first three NSSCs; thus, it was an appropriate an appropriate time to evaluate the performance of the Annual Catch Limit (ACL) based management process. Despite significant progress in developing the specification process, some regions are still struggling with data-poor fisheries and the difficulties of developing stock assessment and review processes. In addition to fishery-inherent challenges, regions are faced with uncertainties from climate-change related impacts and variations in habitat metrics that limit the ability to fully implement Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management (EBFM). SSCs are at different stages of ACL and EBFM implementation. Participants felt that a national discussion on the status and lessons learned in the ACL and EBFM experience would be beneficial in moving forward the science of fishery management.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the primary law governing marine fisheries in U.S. waters. The Act ushered in a new era of managing marine fisheries and conserving fish stocks by extending federal fisheries jurisdiction out to 200 miles and establishing the Regional Fishery Management Council system. To fully appreciate the scale of this monumental change, this document explores how fisheries were managed before the Act was put in place and highlights the accomplishments of each of the eight regional management councils – and challenges being faced as we move forward into the next 40 years.