Quantcast
Popular

Sardine Population Down 95% Since 2006, Fishery Shut Down for Third Consecutive Year

Federal fishery managers voted Monday to keep the U.S. West Coast Pacific sardine fishery closed for the upcoming commercial season. With an estimated 86,586 metric tons (mt) of sardine remaining and 150,000 mt necessary for fishing to occur, this will be the third year in a row there are not enough sardines to support a fishery.


"This modern day Pacific sardine crash, which was exacerbated by excessive fishing when the population was falling, underscores the need for new approaches to fishery management," said Geoff Shester, California campaign director for Oceana. "We hope managers learn from this and strengthen safeguards to protect sardines and the ocean wildlife dependent on sardines, while also supporting sustainable fishing communities."

The northern sardine subpopulation ranges along the Pacific coast from Baja California, Mexico to British Columbia, Canada. It is fished by Mexico, Canada and the U.S. without a common management agreement. In recent years, as the population was crashing (2007-2014), the fishery off California, Oregon and Washington landed on average 73,000 metric tons of sardines a year with an average dock value of $13.9 million per year. Most Pacific sardines are exported and sold as bait for foreign fisheries or feed for penned bluefin tuna or canned overseas for human consumption. Left in the water, Pacific sardines are an important food fish for many dependent predators from whales, sea lions and Chinook salmon, to brown pelicans, common murres and least terns.

"Over the last four years we've witnessed starved California sea lion pups washing up on beaches and brown pelicans failing to produce chicks because moms are unable to find enough forage fish," said Ben Enticknap, Pacific campaign manager and senior scientist with Oceana. "Meanwhile sardine fishing rates spiked right as the population was crashing. Clearly the current sardine management plan is not working as intended and steps must be taken to fix it."

Leaving more sardines in the water before fishing is allowed to occur will help ensure there is enough of this critical food fish for wildlife while allowing the sardine population to rebuild more quickly. When sardines are again at healthy levels, Oceana supports an ecologically sustainable fishery with a preference of providing sardines for direct human consumption, rather than secondary uses like bait or aquaculture feed. It is equally important that fishing rates are curtailed during a population decline to prevent exacerbating a fishery collapse in the future.

In 2013, the fishery removed 40 percent of the remaining sardines as the population was collapsing, exceeding the maximum sustainable yield fishing rate by more than two fold. Implementing a coordinated management approach with Mexico and Canada—nations that also fish the same sardine population—will help prevent coast-wide, international overfishing.

The decision by the Pacific Fishery Management Council now goes to the National Marine Fisheries Service to issue regulations for the upcoming season spanning July 1 to June 30, 2018.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Business
velkr0 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Texas Supreme Court Rules Cities Cannot Ban Plastic Bags

The Texas Supreme Court struck down the city of Laredo's plastic bag ban—a decision that will likely overturn similar bans in about a dozen other cities, including Austin, Fort Stockton and Port Aransas.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Ryan Zinke visits Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota on May 25. Sherman Hogue / U.S. Dept. of the Interior

Report: Trump Admin. Suppressing Media Access of Government Scientists

A new Trump administration protocol requires U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists to run interview requests with the Department of the Interior, its parent agency, before speaking to journalists, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The move is a departure from past media practices that allowed government scientists to quickly respond to journalists' inquiries, according to unnamed USGS employees interviewed by the Times.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Icebergs calving from an ice shelf in West Antarctica. NASA / GSFC / Jefferson Beck / CC BY-SA 2.0

Good News From Antarctica: Rising Bedrock Could Save Vulnerable Ice Sheet

After last week's disturbing news that ice melt in Antarctica has tripled in the last five years, another study published Thursday offers some surprising good news for the South Pole and its vulnerable West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS).

The study, published in Science by an international research team, found that the bedrock below the WAIS is rising, a process known as "uplift," at record rates as melting ice removes weight, potentially stabilizing the ice sheet that scientists feared would be lost to climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
GMO
Soybeans with cupped leaves, a symptom of dicamba injury. University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Dicamba Damage Roars Back for Third Season in a Row

University weed scientists have reported roughly 383,000 acres of soybean injured by a weedkiller called dicamba so far in 2018, according to University of Missouri plant sciences professor, Kevin Bradley.

Dicamba destroys mostly everything in its path except the crops that are genetically engineered (GE) to resist it. The drift-prone chemical can be picked up by the wind and land on neighboring non-target fields. Plants exposed to the chemical are left wrinkled, cupped or stunted in growth.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Memphis Meats

FDA Takes First Steps to Regulating Lab-Grown Meat

By Dan Nosowitz

Lab-grown meat—also known as cultured meat or in vitro meat—has long been enticing for its potential environmental, social and economic benefits.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Scott Pruitt speaking at meeting at the USDA headquarters in Washington, DC, on Jan. 17. Lance Cheung / USDA

Breaking: Sierra Club Demands Pruitt’s Emails After Only 1 Disclosed by EPA

As part of ongoing litigation, the Sierra Club has demanded that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) search Scott Pruitt's personal email accounts for work-related emails, or certify clearly and definitively that the administrator has never used personal email for work purposes. The demand comes on the heels of a successfully litigated Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's email and other communications with all persons and parties outside the executive branch. These facts were first reported in Politico early this morning.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals

Iceland Flouts Global Ban to Slaughter First Protected Fin Whale of New Hunting Season

Iceland's multi-millionaire rogue whaler Kristján Loftsson and his company Hvalur hf have resumed their slaughter of endangered fin whales in blunt defiance of the international ban on commercial whaling.

The hunt is Iceland's first in three years and marks the start of a whaling season that could see as many as 239 of these majestic creatures killed.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Life- Trac / CC BY-SA 3.0

Farm Bill With Huge Giveaways to Pesticide Industry Passes House

A farm bill that opponents say would harm endangered species, land conservation efforts, small-scale farmers and food-stamp recipients passed the U.S. House of Representatives 213 to 211, with every House Democrat and 20 Republicans voting against it, The Center for Biological Diversity reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!