Pacific sardine fishery banned for third consecutive year
2017-04-12 11:10:37   copyfrom:    hits:

Pacific sardine capture (Photo: wdfw wa gov)UNITED STATESTuesday, April 11, 2017,23:50 (GMT + 9)The US West Coast
 

Pacific sardine capture. (Photo: wdfw.wa.gov)

 

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

 

The US West Coast Pacific sardine fishery closure has been set for the upcoming commercial season, the third year in a row.

The decision was taken by federal fishery managers after considering there are not enough sardines to support a fishery, with an estimated 86,586 metric tons of sardine remaining and 150,000 mt necessary for fishing to occur, EcoWatch reported.

"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," Shester pointed out.

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 US 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 USD 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.

In his view, as sardine fishing rates spiked as the population was crashing, it is clear the current sardine management plan is not working as intended and steps must be taken to fix it.

From Oceana, it was clarified that when sardines are again at healthy levels, the NGO supports an ecologically sustainable fishery with a preference of providing sardines for direct human consumption.

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

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