Description of Overfished Stocks:
An overfished stock is a population of fish that is too low. From a technical standpoint, a stock that is overfished is depleted below a minimum level and active rebuilding is required. Stocks that are overfished cannot support a large amount of fishing. A fish stock can be listed as overfished as the result of many factors including overfishing, habitat degradation, pollution, climate change, and disease. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires the status of overfished stocks be reported annually.
Stock assessments provide information to determine if a stock is overfished or experiencing overfishing (harvest higher than a maximum fishing threshold). This is done by estimating fishing intensity and the abundance of fish stocks and comparing those estimates to management reference points. Stock assessments can provide the science that supports the steps necessary to rebuild overfished stocks to sustainable levels.
It is important to track the status of fish stocks because fish play an important role in marine ecosystems, such as supporting the ecological structure of many marine food webs. Fish also support significant parts of coastal economies including recreational and commercial fisheries, and play an important cultural role in many regions.
This site presents the number of overfished stocks by year in all US Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs).
Data were obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Fishery Stock Status website. Stocks that met the criteria for overfished status were summed by year for each region.