Science and Its Role in the National Marine Fisheries Service

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NMFS has a difficult and complex task in managing U.S. marine fisheries. Despite some successes, too many stocks continue to decline. Over the past decade, several problems have been identified that have contributed to the current dissatisfaction with how marine fisheries are managed. This dissatisfaction is evident from the large number of lawsuits filed by the fishing industry and environmental organizations. One central problem is overfishing. Overfishing issues have been discussed in a series of NRC reports, and these reports identify overcapitalization, and technological and gear improvements as some of the causes. The reports recommend ways to stem these problems and to advance the practice of fishery science at NMFS. This report reiterates some of these recommendations, and makes new recommendations to enhance the use of data and science for fisheries management.