Protect Atlantic Fish from Overharvesting

ID-10051909

Target: National Marine Fisheries Service

Goal: Regulate the overfishing of essential fish in the Atlantic Ocean.

Some of the most important species of fish in the east coast ocean ecosystem include Atlantic mackerel, river herring, and Atlantic herring, collectively called “forage fish”. Unfortunately, because of poor protection, these species are subjected to egregious amounts of overfishing every year. This problem could be easily combated with a little effort from the National Marine Fisheries Service, saving the fish and restoring the ecosystem.

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council recently drafted Amendment 14 to their Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan, which promises to install a watchdog monitoring system to prevent over-fishing within the industry, and also establishes a legal limit to how many of the forage fish can be killed via by-catching every year. In a similar vein, the New England Fishery Management Council established Amendment 5 for the Atlantic herring fishery. According to EarthJustice, Amendment 5 “[requires] that a fishery observer be placed on every industrial trawler… that all catch be brought on board vessels for monitoring, and that all catch be weighed.”  Currently, the regulations for industry fishing boats are minimal; boats simply report their catches and federal officials just take their word for it, resulting in the deaths of approximately 300 million pounds of forage fish. These new Amendments will greatly check overfishing within the fishing industry by making fishermen more accountable for their catches, protecting the fish and food chain of the ocean, but they must first be approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The Atlantic mackerel, river herring, and Atlantic herring serve as important food sources for other large predatory fish. Without these species, the plankton population goes unchecked, and whales, seabirds and bigger fish such as salmon, cod and striped bass have nothing to eat. If preventable overfishing causes the extinction of the forage fish, the entire ecosystem of the ocean will fall apart. Since these fish cannot protect themselves, it is the responsibility of humans to ensure their survival.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear National Marine Fisheries Service,

Forage fish populations off the East Coast are in danger. Right under your nose, the fishing industry has gotten away with the slaughter of approximately 300 million pounds of essential fish species, such as the Atlantic mackerel, river herring, and Atlantic herring. These fish must be preserved and it is your duty to protect them from over-fishing.

Currently, Amendment 14 by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and Amendment 5 by the New England Fishery Management Council are up for approval. These Amendments are taking great strides to protect the Atlantic ecosystems by increasing accountability for industrial fishermen. If these Amendments pass, the forage fish population may have the chance to restore itself.

If preventable overfishing causes the extinction of the forage fish, the entire ecosystem of the ocean will fall apart. Since these fish cannot protect themselves, it is the responsibility of humans to ensure their survival. I urge you to support and pass both Amendment 14 and Amendment 5 for the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the New England Fishery Management Council, respectively, and support a healthier ocean.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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