As described in National Standard 1 of the MSA, optimum yield (OY) must be assessed and specified in the FMPs and Councils should determine what the relevant social, economic, and ecological factors are in determining OY. An OY Factors Initiative would provide a mechanism to fulfill National Standard 1 by identifying and describing the social, economic, and ecological factors relevant to each FMP. In the future, on a periodic basis as needed, FMP management and Integrated Ecosystem Assessment teams could assess relevant OY factors and update information related to those factors. Specifying these social, economic, and ecological factors in the FMP could more clearly and transparently inform future decision-making on matters such as annual catch limits and fishery conservation and management measures necessary to achieve OY on a continuing basis. This initiative would address FEP Objectives 1b, 3a, and 6c.
The MSA mandates that fisheries be managed at OY, defined as the amount of fish which “will provide the greatest overall benefit to the Nation, particularly with respect to food production and recreational opportunities, and taking into account the protection of marine ecosystems.” OY is prescribed as maximum sustainable yield “as reduced by any relevant economic, social, or ecological factor.” The MSA further establishes National Standard 1, which states that OY shall be achieved “on a continuing basis.”
National Standard 1 interprets OY as a decisional mechanism for resolving the MSA’s conservation and management objectives, with the most important feature of OY being that it must prevent overfishing. National Standard 1 defines OY as a long-term average and states that FMPs must contain conservation and management measures to achieve OY on a continuing basis. An FMP “must contain an assessment and specification of OY” and Councils should consider the objectives of their FMPs and their management framework to “determine the relevant social, economic, and ecological factors used to determine OY.” The assessment and specification of OY should be reviewed on a continuing basis so that it is responsive to changing circumstances in the fishery. National Standard 1 guidelines include a list of potential considerations for social, economic, and ecological factors to take into account when reducing MSY to achieve OY.