Contrary to Lee Crockett's claim in an Aug. 30 letter, I did not suggest that fishery managers are required to allow overfishing on a continuing basis.

I said they may allow limited overfishing in the short term to minimize the effects on communities. Fishery managers do not allow overfishing to go unabated. Within a year of such a determination, they must take action to end the overfishing and implement conservation measures to rebuild the fishery.

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act requires fishery managers to specify a time frame in which to end overfishing and rebuild overfished stocks that is as short as possible, taking into account the biology of the stock, the needs of fishing communities, recommendations by international organizations and the interaction of the overfished stock within the marine ecosystem. Under this law, overfishing doesn't have to be eliminated immediately.

The rebuilding plan for George's Bank cod establishes an immediate reduction in the fishing mortality rate and phases out overfishing by 2009. The plan allows fishing at a rate just over the limit until then.

This approach has been litigated, and the courts have sided with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

SUSAN BUCHANAN

Public Affairs Specialist

National Oceanic

and Atmospheric Administration

Silver Spring