There has been a great deal of controversy over the recent announcements by NOAA Fisheries concerning dogfish. This year, an action was taken that resulted in an increase of about 20% in the 2010 quota over the 2009 quota, and kept the trip limit at 3,000 pounds/trip.
As the recent actions have been controversial, Saving Seafood asked NOAA Fisheries to explain the current situation. Their explanation follows: The stock is rebuilt, overfishing is not occurring, and the biomass is about where projections made in 2003 and 2006 [Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop (SARC) 37 and 43] forecast it would be by 2009.
The 2010 quota could have been set higher without allowing overfishing in 2010. However, that was not the only concern. The New England Fisheries Management Council's Joint Spiny Dogfish Committee supported a lower quota than the maximum allowable, one that reflected a constant catch strategy that would guard against dramatic fluctuation in annual quota in future years. This is a concern because despite improved recruitment in 2009, the Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB) is expected to decline beginning in 2015 when the weak year-classes of 1997-2003 (the weakest on record) start entering the SSB.
At 15 million pounds held constant over the next 5 years, there's an increase in the quota over 2009 but just a 2 percent chance that the stock will be newly overfished in 2015 when the weak year classes begin to enter the spawning stock.