History is often told as the story of a land, but arguably whole chapters of our nation’s history are stories of water. Our vast oceans, teeming with fish like cod, herring, mackerel and salmon, have supported the families, businesses, communities and traditions of people living here since time immemorial. Fishing is an important part of American culture—from commercial fishermen who spend weeks at sea to bring in a fresh catch, to American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes with thousands of years of fishing traditions, to recreational fisherman that may spend just a few days each year trying to catch the big one. And for many Americans, having fish for dinner is one of their few remaining connections to the wild-caught natural resources of our nation. Not long ago, our fisheries were in real trouble. Historic overfishing led to failing fishing ports and businesses. Fishermen, working with fishery managers and scientists, sacrificed and worked hard to bring our fisheries back. Today, the United States has one of the strongest fishery management systems in the world. While there is still work to be done, overfishing is now at near-historic lows.
In order to enjoy all the benefits of healthy fisheries, we manage with strong, science-based conservation measures that meet social, economic, and environmental objectives. This ensures we have fish now and in the future. Without management, overfishing can put entire fisheries at risk of collapse. And when that happens, we all lose.
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