American fisheries that were depleted just 15 years ago are springing back thanks to science and a strong current of tougher laws.
Over-fishing had wiped out stocks in 92 U.S. fisheries by 2000, and fishermen were facing hard economic times until Congress took action in 2007.
With bipartisan support, it passed an amendment requiring federally managed fisheries to set catch limits based on science — and to have a plan in place to enforce them by 2011.
By 2015, the number of overfished stocks had dropped by two-thirds while federal efforts successfully rebuilt the stocks of 39 fish species off U.S. coasts.
Enforcing the limits has been harder than the science of setting them. One of the methods was to encourage fishing fleets on the U.S. West Coast to work with universities and nonprofits to develop better technology and conservation zones to help fish populations recover.
The boats now alert one another when they start sighting overfished species and in the process have been providing environmental groups with valuable knowledge of fragile aquatic ecology.
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