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A Fish Story: “Hundreds of Millions” For the Taking in the Sea

July 23, 2009

New York, NY - Hundreds of millions of dollars could have been pulled from the sea, if the U.S. did a better job rebuilding fish populations. That's the conclusion of a new report out today.

Lee Crockett, director of federal fish policy for the Pew Environment Group, says their report asks a very simple question, 'How much money could commercial and recreational fisherman be reeling in had effective limits been in place earlier?' The four Mid-Atlantic fish species examined would have been rebuilt sooner, argues Crockett, and now be producing big economic benefits.

"There's a huge economic benefit from rebuilding these populations. In fact, one of them, since we started this study, has been rebuilt - bluefish."

While the report is expected to detail hundreds of millions per year in direct benefits to fisherman, Crockett says coastal states like New York and New Jersey would also reap indirect benefits.

"There are going to be more people going down to the shore to go fishing, and they'll be going to lunch, staying overnight, buying gas. We didn't factor in all that additional economic activity, so we feel like these numbers are conservative."

While opponents of fisheries management are concerned about cost and regulation, Crockett says fisheries managers and Congress should stay the course. He says huge profits can be made in the long run when effective limits are put in place, so that fish stocks are returned to healthy levels.

The study, conducted by a fisheries economist at the University of Rhode Island, also looks at black sea bass, butterfish and summer flounder. The Pew Environment Group commissioned the report, which will be posted at www.endoverfishing.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY