Jun 20 2018

Judge rules for Oceana in California anchovy dispute

Just how many anchovies are there off the northern coast of California and are there enough to fish commercially?

Environmental activist group Oceana and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have different answers to those questions, and a federal judge’s ruling recently favored Oceana’s view, reducing opportunities for California fishermen.

At issue is the science that NMFS relied on in reaching a 2016 decision to set the total allowable catch (TAC) for northern California anchovy at 25,000 metric tons. The agency set that limit — even though landings typically only total less than a third of that, 7,300t — judging the stock’s maximum sustainable yield to be 123,000t, and calculating an acceptable biological catch of 100,000t. The TAC was set, conservatively, the agency said, at a fourth of that level.

However, after the 2016 rule was adopted, Oceana sued NMFS in federal court arguing that the rule violated principles established in the the Magnuson-Stevens Act because the agency failed “to articulate the scientific basis for this catch limit”.

In January, judge Lucy Koh approved Oceana’s motion for summary judgment vacating the 25,000t TAC rule. NMFS had asked judge Koh to amend that judgement but last week, she declined to do so. When contacted by Undercurrent News, representatives of NMFS’ parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said that its lawyers were reviewing the judgment. It has not decided if it will appeal.

NMFS is currently working on new assessments of the stock to inform future TAC decisions.

Precipitous decline?

In its lawsuit, Oceana, claiming that the anchovy stock had “declined precipitously”, argued that NMFS hadn’t conducted a stock assessment for the species since 1995 and that the true size of the northern anchovy biomass averaged between 10,000t to 15,000t from the 2009 to 2011 period.

It made this claim in part due to a piece of independent research authored by Alec MacCall, which looked at densities of anchovy eggs and larvae.

NMFS argued that that the MacCall study had shortcomings.

“These egg/larval data were collected by the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries in a fairly small portion of the range of the stock between San Diego and Point Conception, California,” NMFS lawyers argued, adding that the model used in the study did not take into account anchovies that didn’t spawn during the period studied or laid their eggs elsewhere.

But the judge wrote that “defendants’ arguments fail to discredit the MacCall Study”, and said that because the 25,000t TAC wasn’t based on “best available science”, it would be vacated.

Wetfish worries

Speaking to Undercurrent about the ruling, Diane Pleschner-Steele, the executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, also characterized the MacCall study as flawed. Her group’s members have seen a “huge abundance” of anchovy despite concerns that the stock has collapsed.

Pleschner-Steele said that her group worked last year with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to perform an aerial survey of anchovy stocks.

“The department’s plane flew along the coast inside the area that the NOAA acoustic trawl survey was transecting at the same time, and our spotter pilot estimated tonnage of the schools he observed,” she wrote.   “We documented tens of thousands of tons of coastal pelagic species — both sardine and anchovy —  that the NOAA cruise did not see or factor into its assessment because they survey largely offshore and don’t come into nearshore waters.   This is now recognized as a problem, and we’re hopeful that we can improve stock assessments over time.”

The California ‘wetfish’ industry that traditionally relied on squid harvesting but supplements that fishery with anchovy, sardines and mackerel. Unfortunately for the fishermen, the sardine fishery has been closed to directed commercial fishing — although an incidental fishery is allowed — and mackerel landings have been low in recent years.

“Things are still pretty tenuous. Right now the only fishery we have is squid,” she said.

Original article:  https://www.undercurrentnews.com/ | Contact the author jason.smith@undercurrentnews.com

Jun 11 2018

Choice matters: The environmental costs of producing meat, seafood

Three beef heifers looking into the sun with blue sky background

Which food type is more environmentally costly to produce — livestock, farmed seafood, or wild-caught fish?

The answer is, it depends. But in general, industrial beef production and farmed catfish are the most taxing on the environment, while small, wild-caught fish and farmed mollusks like oysters, mussels and scallops have the lowest environmental impact, according to a new analysis.

Growing oysters at a farm in Thailand. jomkwan/Istock/Thinkstock

The study appears online June 11 in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, and its authors believe it is the most comprehensive look at the environmental impacts of different types of animal protein production.

“From the consumer’s standpoint, choice matters,” said lead author Ray Hilborn, a University of Washington professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “If you’re an environmentalist, what you eat makes a difference. We found there are obvious good choices, and really obvious bad choices.”

The study is based on nearly a decade of analysis, in which the co-authors reviewed hundreds of published life-cycle assessments for various types of animal protein production. Also called a “cradle-to-grave” analysis, these assessments look at environmental impacts associated with all stages of a product’s life.

Of the more than 300 such assessments that exist for animal food production, the authors selected 148 that were comprehensive and not considered too “boutique,” or specialized, to inform their new study.

As decisions are made about how food production expands through agricultural policies, trade agreements and environmental regulations, the authors note a “pressing need” for systematic comparisons of environmental costs across animal food types.

“I think this is one of the most important things I’ve ever done,” Hilborn said. “Policymakers need to be able to say, ‘There are certain food production types we need to encourage, and others we should discourage.’”

Broadly, the study uses four metrics as a way to compare environmental impacts across the many different types of animal food production, including farm-raised seafood (called aquaculture), livestock farming and seafood caught in the wild. The four measures are: energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, potential to contribute excess nutrients — such as fertilizer — to the environment, and the potential to emit substances that contribute to acid rain.

A fishing boat off the coast of Ireland.FrankMirgach/Istock/Thinkstock

The researchers compared environmental impacts across food types by using a standard amount of 40 grams of protein — roughly the size of an average hamburger patty, and the daily recommended protein serving. For example, they calculated how much greenhouse gas was produced per 40 grams of protein across all food types, where data were available.

“This method gives us a really consistent measurement people can relate to,” Hilborn said.

The analysis showed clear winners that had low environmental impacts across all measures, including farmed shellfish and mollusks, and capture fisheries such as sardines, mackerel and herring. Other capture fish choices with relatively low impact are whitefish like pollock, hake and the cod family. Farmed salmon also performed well. But the study also illuminated striking differences across animal proteins, and the researchers advise that consumers must decide what environmental impacts are most important to them when selecting their food choices.

Some of the additional findings include:

  • Overall, livestock production used less energy than most forms of seafood aquaculture. Farmed catfish, shrimp and tilapia used the most energy, mainly because constant water circulation must be powered by electricity.
  • Catfish aquaculture and beef produce about 20 times more greenhouse gases than farmed mollusks, small capture fisheries, farmed salmon and chicken.
  • Mollusk aquaculture — such as oysters, mussels and scallops — actually absorb excess nutrients that are harmful to ecosystems. In contrast, livestock beef production rated poorly in this measure, and capture fisheries consistently scored better than aquaculture and livestock because no fertilizer is used.
  • Because livestock emit methane in their manure, they performed poorly in the acid rain category. Farmed mollusks again performed the best, with small capture fisheries and salmon aquaculture close behind.
  • For capture fisheries, fuel to power fishing boats is the biggest factor, and differences in fuel use created a large range of performance in the greenhouse gas category. Using a purse sein net to catch small schooling fish like herring and anchovy uses the least fuel and, perhaps surprisingly, pot fisheries for lobster use a great deal of fuel and thus have a high impact per unit of protein produced. Dragging nets through water, known as trawling, is quite variable and the impact appears to be related to the abundance of the fish. Healthy stocks take less fuel to capture.
  • When compared to other studies of vegetarian and vegan diets, a selective diet of aquaculture and wild capture fisheries has a lower environmental impact than either of the plant-based diets.

In the future, the researchers plan to look at biodiversity impacts as another way to measure environmental costs. The analysis also mentions a range of other environmental impacts such as water demand, pesticide use, antibiotic use and soil erosion that were addressed in some of the studies they reviewed, but not consistently enough to summarize in the study.

Co-authors are Jeannette Banobi, a former UW research assistant in aquatic and fishery sciences; Teresa Pucylowski and Tim Walsworth, former UW graduate students; and Stephen Hall of Avalerion Capital.

The study was partially funded by the Seafood Industry Research Fund.

###

For more information, contact Hilborn at rayh@uw.edu.

Jun 6 2018

The Cost of Food

Everything we eat has environmental costs. We trade human health and nutrition for some necessary amount of environmental disturbance, though we should always strive to reduce our dietary impact. Seafood causes less environmental damage than any other animal proteins and should be considered in any low-impact diet.

Read it here:

http://sustainablefisheries-uw.org/seafood-101/cost-of-food/

Jun 6 2018

Fish will migrate as temperatures warm, putting fisheries at risk

A new paper projects how warming ocean temperatures will affect the geographic distribution of 686 commercially important species around North America. Species migration and shifting home ranges have serious implications for natural resource management, particularly fisheries.

Read about it here:
http://sustainablefisheries-uw.org/fish-will-migrate-as-temperatures-warm/

Research Article:

Projecting shifts in thermal habitat for 686 species on the North American continental shelf

Jun 3 2018

Marine heatwaves are getting hotter, lasting longer and doing more damage

Marine heatwaves occur everywhere in the ocean. Credit: Eric Oliver/Dalhousie University

On land, heatwaves can be deadly for humans and wildlife and can devastate crops and forests.

Unusually warm periods can also occur in the ocean. These can last for weeks or months, killing off kelp forests and corals, and producing other significant impacts on marine ecosystems, fishing and aquaculture industries.

Yet until recently, the formation, distribution and frequency of marine heatwaves had received little research attention.

Long-term change

Climate change is warming ocean waters and causing shifts in the distribution and abundance of seaweeds, corals, fish and other marine species. For example, tropical fish species are now commonly found in Sydney Harbour.

But these changes in ocean temperatures are not steady or even, and scientists have lacked the tools to define, synthesize and understand the global patterns of marine heatwaves and their biological impacts.

At a meeting in early 2015, we convened a group of scientists with expertise in atmospheric climatology, oceanography and ecology to form a marine heatwaves working group to develop a definition for the phenomenon: A prolonged period of unusually warm water at a particular location for that time of the year. Importantly, marine heatwaves can occur at any time of the year, summer or winter.

With the definition in hand, we were finally able to analyze historical data to determine patterns in their occurrence.

Analysis of marine heatwave trends

Over the past century, marine heatwaves have become longer and more frequent around the world. The number of marine heatwave days increased by 54 per cent from 1925 to 2016, with an accelerating trend since 1982.

We collated more than 100 years of sea surface temperature data around the world from ship-based measurements, shore station records and satellite observations, and looked for changes in how often marine heatwaves occurred and how long they lasted.

We found that from 1925 to 1954 and 1987 to 2016, the frequency of heatwaves increased 34 per cent and their duration grew by 17 per cent.

These long-term trends can be explained by ongoing increases in ocean temperatures. Given the likelihood of continued ocean surface warming throughout the 21st century, we can expect to see more marine heatwaves globally in the future, with implications for marine biodiversity.

‘The Blob’ effect

Numbers and statistics are informative, but here’s what that means underwater.

 

Yearly count of marine heatwave days from 1900 to 2016, as a global average. Credit: Eric Oliver/Dalhousie University

A marine ecosystem that had 30 days of extreme heat in the early 20th century might now experience 45 days of extreme heat. That extra exposure can have detrimental effects on the health of the ecosystem and the economic benefits, such as fisheries and aquaculture, derived from it.

A number of recent marine heatwaves have done just that.

In 2011, a marine heatwave off western Australia killed off a kelp forest and replaced it with turf seaweed. The ecosystem shift remained even after water temperatures returned to normal, signalling a long-lasting or maybe even permanent change.

That same event led to widespread loss of seagrass meadows from the iconic Shark Bay area, with consequences for biodiversity including increased bacterial blooms, declines in blue crabs, scallops and the health of green turtles, and reductions in the long-term carbon storage of these important habitats.

Similarly, a marine heatwave in the Gulf of Maine disrupted the lucrative lobster fishery in 2012. The warm water in late spring allowed lobsters to move inshore earlier in the year than usual, which led to early landings, and an unexpected and significant price drop.

More recently, a persistent area of warm water in the North Pacific, nicknamed “The Blob”, stayed put for years (2014-2016), and caused fishery closures, mass strandings of marine mammals and harmful algal bloom outbreaks along the coast. It even changed large-scale weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest.

As global ocean temperatures continue to rise and marine heatwaves become more widespread, the marine ecosystems many rely upon for food, livelihoods and recreation will become increasingly less stable and predictable.

The climate change link

Anthropogenic, that is human-caused, climate change is linked to some of these recent marine heatwaves.

For example, human emissions of greenhouse gases made the 2016 marine heatwave in tropical Australia, which led to massive bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, 53 times more likely to occur.

Even more dramatically, the 2015-16 marine heatwave in the Tasman Sea that persisted for more than eight months and disrupted Tasmanian fisheries and aquaculture industries was over 300 times more likely, thanks to anthropogenic climate change.

For scientists, the next step is to quantify future changes under different warming scenarios. How much more often will they occur? How much warmer will they be? And how much longer will they last?

Ultimately, scientists should develop forecasts for policy makers, managers and industry that could predict the future impacts of marine heatwaves for weeks or months ahead. Having that information would help fishery managers know when to open or close a fishery, aquaculture businesses to plan harvest dates and conservation managers to implement additional monitoring efforts.

Forecasts can help manage the risks, but in the end, we still need urgent action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming. If not, marine ecosystems are set for an ever-increasing hammering from extreme ocean heat.

More information on this and related studies can be found on www.marineheatwaves.org.

May 31 2018

New Tool Helps Fisheries Avoid Protected Species In Near Real Time

EcoCast is a dynamic ocean management tool that aims to minimize fisheries bycatch and maximize fisheries target catch in near real time. Map shows daily relative bycatch target catch probabilities. Species weightings reflect management priorities and recent catch events. Environmental data are used to predict where species are likely to be each day.

 

New computer-generated daily maps will help fishermen locate the most productive fishing spots in near real time while warning them where they face the greatest risk of entangling sea turtles, marine mammals, and other protected species. Scientists developed the maps, the products of a system called EcoCast, to help reduce accidental catches of protected species in fishing nets.

Funded primarily by NASA with support from NOAA, California Sea Grant, and Stanford University, Ecocast was developed by NOAA Fisheries scientists and academic partners with input from fishermen and managers.

Using the swordfish fishery as an example, EcoCast incorporates data from tracking of tagged animals, remote sensing satellites and fisheries observers to help predict concentrations of the target species (broadbill swordfish) and three protected species (leatherback turtle, blue shark and California sea lion).

EcoCast will help fishermen, managers, scientists, and others understand in near real time where fishing vessels have the highest probability of catching targeted species and where there is risk of catching protected species. In doing so, EcoCast aims to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of fisheries that sometimes inadvertently catch and kill sensitive species. The first peer-reviewed description of the science behind the system appears this week in Science Advances.

“We’re harnessing the field of big data so that information on ocean conditions can be of most use – so fishermen can go where they’re likely to find the swordfish they want to catch but avoid the species that they do not want to catch,” said Elliott Hazen, a research ecologist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center and lead author of the new paper.

Currently NOAA Fisheries closes a large area off the West Coast to the swordfish fishery seasonally to protect leatherback turtles, which travel widely, and can be caught incidentally in the nets. Fisheries managers could use EcoCast to outline small, “dynamic closures,” that shift according to the likely locations of the species they are trying to protect. Since they concentrate protection where it’s needed most, dynamic closures for leatherback sea turtles could be two to 10 times smaller than the current static closures while still safeguarding the species that need it, the scientists found.

“EcoCast pioneers a way of evaluating both conservation objectives and economic profitability for sustainable U.S. fisheries,” said Rebecca Lewison, a senior scientist on the project from San Diego State University and a co-author of the new paper. “By meeting both conservation and economic objectives, EcoCast is an important step forward in supporting species, their ecosystems and our local and state economies.” Dynamic closures could also support more “climate-ready” fisheries management approaches that adjust to changing ocean conditions as the climate shifts and changes over time. For instance, unusually warm conditions off the West Coast in 2014 and 2015 have driven shifts in fish and marine mammal species, forcing fishermen to adjust their efforts.

“EcoCast directly addresses both scientific priorities and fisheries management needs,” said Heidi Taylor of NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region. “The use of real-time environmental data to support dynamic ocean management provides an innovative approach to balance viable fisheries and protecting the ecosystem.”

She noted that fishermen participated throughout the development of EcoCast, which should help boost its usefulness to the fishing fleet. .

The EcoCast system is up and running now, producing color-coded maps posted online each day hosted via NOAA’s CoastWatch West Coast Regional Node. Managers can adjust the system to support additional fisheries, but this paper focused on reducing bycatch of leatherback turtles, blue sharks, and California sea lions in the West Coast drift gillnet fishery that targets swordfish.

EcoCast maps fishing areas in a blue-to-red scale that predicts the best waters to catch swordfish with little to no bycatch in darker shades of blue, with the greatest risk of encountering sea turtles, sea lions, and sharks shown in red. As the ocean conditions change, the dynamic map also changes. Managers can adjust the weighting of each species as risks change and the fishing season progresses.

“The fishermen will be willing to try this because they’re always looking for ways to do things differently, and better,” said Gary Burke, a drift gillnet fisherman in Southern California. “It’s not going to be perfect, because it’s a prediction, but it may give us access to information we haven’t had before.”

He said that fishermen have long watched ocean conditions such as sea surface temperatures as indicators of where the best fishing might be. The added information that EcoCast provides, such as the predicted concentrations of sea turtles, sea lions, and sharks, makes it a more powerful tool to help fishermen decide where – and where not – to fish.

“EcoCast simply would not have been possible a decade ago,” Hazen said. The increasing availability of satellite ocean data, the miniaturization of satellite tags for turtles and fish combined with faster and more powerful computers helped make it happen. Researchers are working to add data on additional species such as marine mammals to best reflect bycatch concerns.

“Now we can integrate all this information through complex statistical models that turn tens of thousands of data points into something more useful,” he said. “We’re putting the information directly in the hands of the fishers and managers.”

EcoCast is supported by a partnership that includes NOAA Fisheries, The University of California Santa Cruz, San Diego State University, Stanford University, Old Dominion University, The University of Maryland, drift gillnet fishermen, fisheries managers and other stakeholders.

“EcoCast is leading the way toward more dynamic management of marine resources,” said Woody Turner, program manager for ecological forecasting in NASA’s Applied Sciences Program.

Swordfish, Shutterstock/Joe Fish Flynn; Leatherback turtle with satellite tag, NOAA Fisheries/H. Harris (NMFS permit #1596-03); California sea lion with satellite tag, Dan Costa; Blue shark, NOAA Fisheries/Mark Conlin; Fishing vessel off the coast of southern California, NOAA Fisheries.

For more information:

Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s Environmental Research Division (ERD)

Related websites:

TurtleWatch – A product produced by NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center to provides up-to-date information about the thermal habitat of loggerhead sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean north of the Hawaiian Islands.

WhaleWatch – A project coordinated by NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region to help reduce human impacts on whales.


Original post: https://swfsc.noaa.gov/

May 30 2018

Consequences of spatially variable ocean acidification in the California Current: Lower pH drives strongest declines in benthic species in southern regions while greatest economic impacts occur in northern regions

 

Emma E. Hodgsona, Isaac C. Kaplanb, Kristin N. Marshallc, Jerry Leonardc, Timothy E. Essingtona, D. Shallin Buschd, Elizabeth A. Fultone, f, Chris J. Harveyb, Albert Hermanng, h, Paul McElhanyb

  • a School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-5020, USA
  • b Conservation Biology Division, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 2725 Montlake Blvd E, Seattle WA 98112, USA
  • c Fishery Resource Analysis and Monitoring Division, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 2725 Montlake Blvd E, Seattle WA 98112, USA
  • d Ocean Acidification Program, Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, 2725 Montlake Blvd E, Seattle WA 98112, USA
  • e CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, GPO Box 1538, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
  • f Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania, 20 Castray Esplanade, Hobart, Tasmania 7004, Australia
  • g NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle WA 98115, USA
  • h Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, University of Washington, 3737 Brooklyn Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105, USA

Abstract

Marine ecosystems are experiencing rapid changes driven by anthropogenic stressors which, in turn, are affecting human communities. One such stressor is ocean acidification, a result of increasing carbon emissions. Most research on biological impacts of ocean acidification has focused on the responses of an individual species or life stage. Yet, understanding how changes scale from species to ecosystems, and the services they provide, is critical to managing fisheries and setting research priorities. Here we use an ecosystem model, which is forced by oceanographic projections and also coupled to an economic input-output model, to quantify biological responses to ocean acidification in six coastal regions from Vancouver Island, Canada to Baja California, Mexico and economic responses at 17 ports on the US west coast. This model is intended to explore one possible future of how ocean acidification may influence this coastline. Outputs show that declines in species biomass tend to be larger in the southern region of the model, but the largest economic impacts on revenue, income and employment occur from northern California to northern Washington State. The economic consequences are primarily driven by declines in Dungeness crab from loss of prey. Given the substantive revenue generated by the fishing industry on the west coast, the model suggests that long-term planning for communities, researchers and managers in the northern region of the California Current would benefit from tracking Dungeness crab productivity and potential declines related to pH.

 

Access to full article can be found here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304380018301856

May 18 2018

Status of Stocks 2017 Report to Congress–Number of overfished stocks hit all time low

 

NOAA Fisheries is pleased to release the annual report to congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries, which summarizes the progress the nation has made in ending overfishing, rebuilding historically overfished stocks, and helping our fishing communities succeed. The report and supporting materials are available online on the NOAA Fisheries’ website, along with a message from Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries.

Briefly, the 2017 Status of U.S. Fisheries reflects the collective and continuing progress in rebuilding stocks. It also finds that the number of stocks on the overfished list is at an all-time low, and stocks on the overfishing list remain near all-time lows. In 2017, 91 percent of stocks were not subject to overfishing and 87 percent of stocks were not overfished. We are also pleased to report that last year, three additional stocks were rebuilt: bocaccio (Southern Pacific Coast), darkblotched rockfish (Pacific Coast), and Pacific ocean perch (Pacific Coast). This brings the total stocks rebuilt since 2000 to 44. 

This report continues to highlight the success that can be achieved using sound science, innovative management approaches, effective enforcement, meaningful partnerships, and robust public participation. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the United States has become an international leader in fisheries management. Our dynamic, science-based management process is proving successful in ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks, and in helping us attain significant benefits to the U.S. economy. 

May 7 2018

THE REAL STORY BEHIND SARDINES — Neil Guglielmo

Reporter Anne Roth quoted me in her article “When will sardines return? Not any time soon say scientists.” But she got many of her facts wrong, missed the point, and misquoted what I said. Here’s the true story.

I’m one of the fishermen whose observations Diane Pleschner-Steele relied on when she said ‘fishermen are seeing more sardines, not less.” We began seeing an abundance of small sardines beginning around the fall of 2014, leading up to the 2015 El Niño.

In fact, independent surveys as well as NOAA surveys also encountered record numbers of young of the year – both sardines and anchovies. The NOAA acoustic-trawl cruise caught a bunch of young sardines in its trawl net in 2015, but when scientists included the length composition data from those fish into the stock assessment model, it blew up the biomass estimate to more than a million tons. Scientists thought that was unreasonable, so they threw out the data.

The reporter quotes Oceana’s Geoff Shester extensively as an “authority” on sardine, but fails to acknowledge objective, and contradictory, scientific evidence on two important points: the first is that sardine abundance is driven primarily by ocean cycles with negligible impact from fishing pressure, especially considering the precautionary modern-day harvest allowance, and sea lions are now found to be at or above carrying capacity, and higher pup mortality rates are expected, along with an increase in disease that is also apparent now.

Oceana is quick to accuse the fishery of “overfishing,” but this is grounds for libel, as this allegation has been debunked not only by scientists but also by the [former] NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries.

The reporter also misunderstood the reason why incidental catch rates are low now. It’s not because sardines are scarce and they don’t school – it’s just the opposite. Sardines often school with other fish like anchovy, and the mix can be 50:50 percent or higher. We don’t catch many sardines now because the percentage of sardine in mixed schools is often ABOVE the 40 percent rate allowed, so we must forego catching them.

The truth is that fishermen have seen an increasing abundance of sardines since at least 2015, but the government is only now beginning to realize and acknowledge that they’re missing fish in their stock assessments. We think they’re missing a lot of fish, and we’ve offered to help them document the abundance inshore of their surveys. But that’s going to take time, and the bureaucracy moves slowly. It may take years for government surveys to fully assess and account for sardines in the area where most of the sardines are, and I only have a few years of fishing left. But I hope I do see a return to sardine fishing in my lifetime. Fishermen know far better than scientists how many fish are in the ocean. It’s time they start listening to us.

 


When will sardines return? Not any time soon say scientists

Neil Guglielmo, a 76-year-old commercial fisherman, says he doubts the sardine stock will bounce back in his lifetime. (Annie Roth — Herald Correspondent)

Monterey >> Less than 30 years after the Pacific sardine population was deemed “recovered,” the stock has once again fallen into a severe slump according to stock assessments conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Scientists estimate the West Coast population of Pacific sardines has declined by 95 percent since 2006. Although sardine populations naturally fluctuate in response to shifting climatic conditions, overharvesting is believed to have accelerated the stock’s collapse. Although no one knows exactly how long it will take for the sardine supply to replenish, many scientists are certain it won’t be anytime soon.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the stock didn’t come back for 20 years.” said Dr. Geoff Shester, California program director and senior scientist at Oceana, the world’s largest ocean conservation non-profit.

In 2012, scientists from the National Marine Fishery Service warned that another collapse was imminent — but this warning went largely unheeded. When this warning was issued, sardine biomass was still above the 150,000 ton threshold required for commercial fishing. The Pacific Fishery Management Council — whose members include fishermen, industry stakeholders, and federal and state officials from the National Marine Fisheries Service — said there wasn’t enough evidence of decline to justify a moratorium on commercial sardine fishing.

Sardine fishing continued until 2015, when the stock fell below the commercial cutoff and the directed fishery was closed. Shester believes the council’s failure to take precautionary measures made a bad situation worse.

“Because the population was already declining, and fishing made it worse, the stock is going to have a lot more trouble recovering than it would have had had we stopped fishing earlier,” said Shester.

Pacific sardines were on the rise during the early 2000s, but in 2006 the population took an unexpected downturn. Estimates suggest the Pacific sardine population decreased from 1.8 million tons to 86,000 tons between 2006 and 2017. The latest assessment puts the size of the Pacific sardine stock at a mere 52,065 tons, a fraction of the 150,000 ton threshold required for commercial fishing.

“Ultimately, a trade off was made to fish in the short term, and that’s now having this detrimental consequence that may last for decades,” said Shester.

Sardines are an important food source for several marine species including sea lions, salmon, brown pelicans, dolphins, and whales, and in California — whose coastal waters boast relatively large numbers of Pacific sardines — the fallout of their decline continues to be evident from shore.

Starving California sea lion pups have been washing up on beaches by the thousands since 2012, most suffering from malnutrition. According to a press release issued by the Marine Mammal Center in 2013, “The sardine and anchovy fish numbers were extremely low in 2012, and it appears this resulted in female adult sea lions having a difficult time providing enough nourishment to their pups.” Scientists estimate that 70 percent of California sea lion pups born between 2013 and 2014 died before weaning age due to a lack of nutrient rich food.

Even though the commercial sardine fishery is closed, you might still see sardines on the menu. The Pacific Fishery Management Council allows a few thousand tons to be harvested by fishermen who catch them incidentally or intend to sell them as live bait. In April, the council set an incidental catch limit of 7,000 tons for the 2018 fishing season.

Shester says this year’s incidental catch quota is “irresponsibly high” and considers the council’s decision to continue allowing a limited harvest a step in the wrong direction.

“There is no level of sustainable fishing on a stock that’s collapsing,” said Shester.

Fishermen rarely meet incidental catch quotas simply because it is very difficult to catch sardines by accident. In order to commercially land sardines caught incidentally, they have to make up less than 40 percent of your catch. Because sardines rarely form schools with other marketable species, achieving this ratio can be challenging.

If Pacific sardine biomass falls below 50,000 tons, fishery managers are required to close the live bait fishery and implement a moratorium on incidental harvest. In 2018, the estimated sardine stock was only 2,000 tons over this threshold. If current trends continue, it’s unlikely the stock will make this cutoff next year — but many fishermen have high hopes that it will.

In a press release issued earlier this month, Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, said “fishermen are seeing more sardines, not less, especially in nearshore waters.”

Not only does Pleschner-Steele reject the notion that overfishing played a role in the decline of the sardine stock, she calls the stock’s collapse “fake news.”

“Oceana claims that overfishing is the cause of the sardine fishery decline, but the absolute opposite is true: fishing is a non-issue and more importantly, the sardine stock is not declining.”

Pleschner-Steele believes the way the National Marine Fishery Service conducts its sardine stock assessments is fundamentally flawed and urges members of her organization to disregard them.

“This [latest] stock assessment was an update that was not allowed to include any new methods and was based primarily on a single acoustic survey that reached only as far south as Morro Bay and totally missed the nearshore coastwide,” said Pleschner-Steele.

The National Marine Fishery Service has acknowledged its inability to survey nearshore areas, but the agency doesn’t believe the lack of this data has compromised the accuracy of its assessments.

“We’re likely missing some sardines but maybe not at a huge portion,” said Josh Lindsay, a fishery policy analyst from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

“There is a broad understanding from the agency that we are not sampling the entire population, and a lot of that uncertainty gets built into our stock assessment model,” said Lindsay

For the last several years, scientists from the National Marine Fishery Service have been developing new ways to improve the accuracy of the agency’s stock assessments. The agency recently announced plans to use solar powered autonomous drones, also known as saildrones, to survey waters that their ships can’t reach.

Pleschner-Steele hopes surveys of nearshore areas will prove her theory that the stock is increasing, but not all fishers share her optimism. Neil Guglielmo, a commercial fisherman and member of the California Wetfish Producers Association, fears the stock won’t bounce back in his lifetime. The commercial purse-seiner says he began to suspect the stock was crashing seven years ago, because sardines were becoming increasingly difficult to catch.

“When there’s a lot of fish around, they’re easy to catch,” said Guglielmo.

Guglielmo, who has been catching sardines, anchovies and squid off the California coast for more than 40 years, shares Pleschner-Steele’s view that the latest stock assessment underestimated the true size of the stock, but unlike Pleschner-Steele, Guglielmo doesn’t think the sardine population is bouncing back.

“I’m 76 years old. Unless something drastic happens, I don’t think I’ll ever fish sardines again,” said Guglielmo.

May 2 2018

Why this millionaire investor eats five cans of sardines every day

Venture capitalist and entrepreneur Craig Cooper has some interesting life hacks up his sleeve.

He says his body automatically goes to sleep every night at 10:24 p.m., he’s an exercise rat who never works out in an actual gym, and he takes 22-minute naps in the afternoon to boost his productivity.

If that weren’t enough, the millionaire co-founder of telecommunications company Boost Mobile (USA) also hacks his diet: He eats five cans of sardines every day to maintain his health and energy.

“Sardines are the No. 1 superfood for guys,” said Cooper, who co-hosts CNBC’s reality pitch series “Adventure Capitalists.” “They’re a powerhouse of nutrition, so I’m kind of an evangelist for sardines amongst everyone I meet.”https://www.cnbc.com/adventure-capitalists

Claudia Totir | Getty Images  Cold-water oily fish such as sardines are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Indeed, the silver-scaled fish in a can are dense with nutrients. One serving of the oily pilchards packs as much as 17 grams of protein and 50 percent of your recommended daily calcium intake for just 90 to 150 calories. Whether in oil or in water, they also are laden with omega-3 fatty acids (61 percent), which are good for lowering cholesterol levels and preventing blood clotting, and vitamin B12 (338 percent), known for assisting in red blood cell formation.

Cooper said that on the set of “Adventure Capitalists,” where entrepreneurs pitch their adventure sport products to investors, he became known as “Sardine” among the production staff. “Not the best nickname, but it stuck.”

While a bit unusual, he says his daily sardine habit works. When his blood and nutrition profile was taken by the head nutritionist for Red Bull, who also supervises big-name professional athletes, he said Cooper had the best omega-3 profile of anyone he’d ever tested, according to the investor.

Cooper relies on health and wellness to maintain his packed schedule. He runs a digital media company, CooperativeHealth, and published the book “Your New Prime” last year.

The 53-year-old said his best decades have been his 40s and 50s, and he hopes to inspire other men to reach for peak performance later in life.

“I’m trying to promote to other guys that your 50s and beyond are a time of opportunity,” he said. “You can be stronger and healthier and just as active as you were in your 30s and early 40s.”