New ‘Status of Stocks’ Report Shows 90-Plus Percent Not Subject to Overfishing

fish stock status
A fish stock status breakdown. Image via National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A newly released 2021 “Status of Stocks” report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concludes that more than 90% of stocks in the U.S. are not subject to overfishing, which means when the annual rate of catch is too high.

The report, which was released in mid-May, shows the number of stocks on the overfished list holding steady at 26 (out of a total of 296) and the number of overfished stocks, where the population size is too small, increasing slightly to 51, up from 49.

The report also states that in 2020, seafood landings in the U.S. were down 10% — likely due to the impact of the COVD-19 pandemic – and that overall annual seafood consumption fell slightly from the previous year to 19 pounds per individual.

For the first time, Fisheries of the United States data is now available via a new interactive web portal at that includes a detailed historic record of economic analysis of seafood consumption, landings totals and imports and exports of fishery products. The portal allows for more frequent updates throughout the year to improve data sharing and collaboration.

A stock is posted on the overfished list when the annual catch rate is too high compared to the population size of the stock, whether because of fishing or other causes.

According to NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, the U.S. continues to be a global leader in sustainable fisheries management as work continues to understand how climate change is affecting fisheries and the communities the fisheries support.

“The report demonstrates that we remain on track to maximize marine fishing opportunities while ensuring long-term ecological and economic sustainability in our changing world,” Spinrad said.

The report states that the value of domestic fisheries landings, including aquaculture production, remains strong and has had a positive impact on the national economy, with commercial landings totaling 8.4 billion pounds of seafood, down 10.41% from the previous year.

The value to harvesters at the dock came to $4.8 billion, down 14.59% from a year earlier, according to the report. The overall bulk of the catch, 60%, came from Alaska, and 14% from the Gulf of Mexico, followed by 11% from the Pacific Coast, 7% from the Middle Atlantic and 6% from New England, data show.

Alaska’s Dutch Harbor again led the nation as the port with the highest volume of seafood landed, a total of 800.2 million pounds valued at $186.7 million, the report states. New Bedford, Massachusetts, continued to be the leading port for the highest value of seafood landed, with 115.4 million pounds valued at $376.6 million.