Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Marine Resource Report No. 2002-10


The factors that may constrain or contribute to sustainable marine fisheries were examined by reviewing and analyzing the current state and history of several U.S. fisheries. Among major factors under consideration are: inherent vulnerability, (vulnerability in some species is high because of low intrinsic rates of increase and/or naturally infrequent recruitment); environmental degradation (fisheries may collapse because of anthropogenic habitat destruction); availability of data, (information necessary to conduct accurate stock assessments may not be adequate for some species); quality of the scientific advice, (inappropriate models or scientifically inaccurate assessments may be used); effectiveness of management decisions, (managers may disregard recommendations from scientific committees, and/or implement management measures that are 1 risk prone). Fisheries that are examined include the Atlantic coast striped bass fishery, the New England groundfish fishery, the Atlantic shark fishery, the Atlantic and Gulf reef fish fisheries, and the Pacific rockfish fishery. Although many of the factors listed above contributed to declines in these fisheries, the root cause in all cases was harvesting at rates that were much higher than could be sustained by recruitment. Management was largely ineffective because management decisions were risk prone and motivated by short-term economic considerations rather than long-term sustainability. Only after passage of legislation not only authorizing but specifying mandatory stock rebuilding has most management been sufficiently precautionary to allow sustainability.



Management councils, Pacific rockfish, striped bass, Atlantic reef fish, Atlantic sharks, New England groundfish



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