Posts Tagged fish stocks

Dec 17 2015

Fish Stocks Are Declining Worldwide, And Climate Change Is on the Hook

A fisherman shovels grey sole, a type of flounder, out of the hold of a ship at the Portland Fish Pier in Maine, September 2015. New research finds the ability of fish populations to reproduce and replenish themselves is declining across the globe. The worst news comes from the North Atlantic, where most species are declining. (Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

For anyone paying attention, it’s no secret there’s a lot of weird stuff going on in the oceans right now. We’ve got a monster El Niño looming in the Pacific. Ocean acidification is prompting handwringing among oyster lovers. Migrating fish populations have caused tensions between countries over fishing rights. And fishermen say they’re seeing unusual patterns in fish stocks they haven’t seen before.

Researchers now have more grim news to add to the mix. An analysis published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that the ability of fish populations to reproduce and replenish themselves is declining across the globe.

“This, as far as we know, is the first global-scale study that documents the actual productivity of fish stocks is in decline,” says lead author Gregory L. Britten, a doctoral student at the University of California, Irvine.

Britten and some fellow researchers looked at data from a global database of 262 commercial fish stocks in dozens of large marine ecosystems across the globe. They say they’ve identified a pattern of decline in juvenile fish (young fish that have not yet reached reproductive age) that is closely tied to a decline in the amount of phytoplankton, or microalgae, in the water.

“We think it is a lack of food availability for these small fish,” says Britten. “When fish are young, their primary food is phytoplankton and microscopic animals. If they don’t find food in a matter of days, they can die.”

The worst news comes from the North Atlantic, where the vast majority of species, including Atlantic cod, European and American plaice, and sole are declining. In this case, Britten says historically heavy fishing may also play a role. Large fish, able to produce the biggest, most robust eggs, are harvested from the water. At the same time, documented declines of phytoplankton made it much more difficult for those fish stocks to bounce back when they did reproduce, despite aggressive fishery management efforts, says Britten.

When the researchers looked at plankton and fish reproduction declines in individual ecosystems, the results varied. In the North Pacific — for example, the Gulf of Alaska — there were no significant declines. But in other regions of the world, like Australia and South America, it was clear that the lack of phytoplankton was the strongest driver in diminishing fish populations.

“When you averaged globally, there was a decline,” says Britten. “Decline in phytoplankton was a factor in all species. It was a consistent variable.”

And it’s directly linked to climate change: Change in ocean temperature affects the phytoplankton population, which is impacting fish stocks, he says.

Food sources for fish in their larval stage were also a focus of research published earlier this summer by Rebecca Asch, now a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University. Asch studied data from 1951 to 2008 on 43 species of fish collected off the Southern California coast and found that many fish have changed the season when they spawn. When fish spawned too early or too late in the season, there can be less plankton available to them, shrinking their chance of survival. She calls it a “mismatch” between when the fish spawn and when seasonal plankton blooms.

Knowing just how vulnerable our fisheries are to potential climate change is on the radar of NOAA Fisheries. The agency has put together a Fish Stock Climate Vulnerability Assessment report expected to be released in early 2016. And like many things associated with climate change, there will be winners and losers.

Jon Hare is the oceanography branch chief for NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center and a lead researcher on the agency’s assessment. He says they looked at 82 fish and invertebrate species in the Northeast. About half of the species, including Atlantic cod, were determined to be negatively impacted by climate change in the Northeast U.S. Approximately 20 percent of the species are likely to be positively impacted — like the Atlantic croaker. The remainder species were considered neutral.

Similar assessments are underway in the California Current and the Bering Sea, and eventually in all of the nation’s large marine ecosystems.

“This is where the idea of ecosystem-based management comes in. It’s not only fishing that is impacting these resources,” says Hare. “We need to take a more holistic view of these resources and include that in our management.”

Britten says the fact that productivity of a fishery can change should be an eye-opener for fisheries management.

“It’s no longer just pull back on fishing and watch the stock rebound. It’s also a question of monitoring and understanding the ability of stocks to rebound, and that’s what we demonstrated in this study. The rebound potential is affected as well,” says Britten.


Original story:  www.npr.org/ Copyright 2015 NPR.

Sep 3 2015

D.B. PLESCHNER: Recent Fishery Study Debunked by 1,400 Years of Data

September 2, 2015 — The following op-ed by D.B. Pleschner was submitted to Saving Seafood:

In an article in International Business Times (August 5, 2015), Aditya Tejas quoted researcher Malin Pinsky in his recently published paper that claims smaller, faster-growing fish like sardines and anchovies are more vulnerable to population collapses than larger fish.

“Climate variations or natural boom-and-bust cycles contribute to population fluctuation in small fast-growing fish,” Pinsky said, “but when they are not overfished, our data showed that their populations didn’t have any more tendency to collapse than other fish.” He called these findings counterintuitive because the opposite dynamic holds true on land: “Mice thrive while lions, tigers and elephants are endangered,” he said.

While it’s common these days to blame the ocean’s woes on overfishing, the truth is Pinsky’s conclusions don’t paint a complete picture. Fortunately, we do have an accurate picture and it’s definitely better than the proverbial thousand words.

The picture is a graph (adapted from Baumgartner et al in CalCOFI Reports 1992, attached) that shows sardine booms and busts for the past 1,400 years. The data were extracted from an anaerobic trench in the Santa Barbara Channel which correlated sardine and anchovy recoveries and collapses with oceanic cycles.

RevDEPOSITION

It’s important to note that most of sardine collapses in this timeframe occurred when there was virtually no commercial fishing. The best science now attributes great fluctuations and collapses experienced by sardines to be part of a natural cycle.

“Pinsky has never been a terrestrial biologist or naturalist or he would have known that small rodents have boom and bust cycles brought about by combinations of environmental conditions and the mice’s early maturity and high fecundity rates,” says Dr. Richard Parrish, an expert in population dynamics now retired from the National Marine Fisheries Service, .

“All fish stocks show boom and bust cycles in recruitment unrelated to fishing,” says Dr. Ray Hilborn, internationally respected fisheries scientist from the University of Washington. “Sardines in particular have been shown to have very great fluctuations and collapses long before commercial fishing. Fast growing, short-lived species will be much more likely to decline to a level called “collapse” when recruitment fluctuates because they are short lived — longer lived species won’t decline as much.”

As a further poke in the eye to the truth, Pinsky cites sardines off the coast of Southern California as a species that has seen fluctuations for thousands of years, but “not at the levels that they’ve experienced in recent decades due to overfishing.”

Again, this simply is not true.

Since the fishery reopened in 1987, Pacific sardines have been perhaps the best-managed fishery in the world – the poster fish for effective ecosystem-based management. The current harvest control rule, updated to be even more precautionary in 2014, sets a strict harvest guideline that considers ocean conditions and automatically reduces the catch limit as the biomass declines.

If the temperature is cold – which scientists believe hampers sardine recruitment – the harvest is reduced. And if the population size declines, both the harvest rate and the allowable catch will automatically decrease, and directed fishing will be stopped entirely when biomass declines below 150,000 mt.

In fact, the current sardine harvest rule is actually more precautionary than the original rule it replaced. It does this by producing an average long-term population size at 75 percent of the unfished size, leaving even more fish in the water, vs. 67 percent in the original rule. The original harvest rule reduced the minimum harvest rate to 5 percent during cold periods. The present has a minimum rate of 0 percent during cold periods.

Compare this to the 1940s and ’50s when the fishery harvest averaged 43 percent or more of the standing sardine stock with little regulatory oversight and no limit on the annual catch. This, coupled with unfavorable ocean conditions, culminated in the historic sardine fishery collapse that devastated Monterey’s Cannery Row.

But that was nearly 70 years ago, not “recent decades.” Our current fishery harvest is less than a quarter of the rate observed during that historical sardine collapse.

As a scientist, Pinsky should be aware of the complex, proactive management efforts that have been in place for decades to prevent overfishing in California and the west coast. He should also be aware of the data from Baumgartner that contradicts his faulty conclusions.

D.B. Pleschner is executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, a nonprofit dedicated to research and to promote sustainable Wetfish resources.


Read the original post: www.savingseafood.org

Jun 23 2015

Letters: Grossman Article on Reasons for Sardine Decline Inaccurate

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

 

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Letters] – June 23, 2015

Editor’s Note: The following letter from D.B. Pleschner was reviewed and supported by Mike Okoniewski of Pacific Seafoods.

To the Editor: I take exception to your statement:  “The author of this piece, Elizabeth Grossman, buys into the argument, but in a fair article.”

In no way was this “fair” reporting.   She selectively quotes (essentially misquotes) both Mike Okoniewski and me (and this after I spent more than an hour with her on the phone, and shared with her the statements of Ray Hilborn, assessment author Kevin Hill and other noted scientists.) She does not balance the article but rather fails to emphasize the NOAA best science in favor of the Demer-Zwolinski paper, published in NAS by NOAA scientists who did not follow protocol for internal review before submitting to NAS (which would have caught many misstatements before they saw print).

NOAA’s Alec MacCall later printed a clarification (in essence a rebuttal) in NAS, which pointed out the errors and stated that the conclusions in the Demer paper were “one man’s opinion”.

Oceana especially has widely touted that paper, notwithstanding the fact that the SWFSC Center Director also needed to testify before the PFMC twice, stating that the paper’s findings did not represent NOAA’s scientific thinking.

After the Oceana brouhaha following the sardine fishery closure, NOAA Assistant Administrator Eileen Sobeck issued a statement. SWFSC Director Cisco Werner wrote to us in response to our request to submit Eileen’s statement to the Yale and Food & Environment Reporting Network to set the record straight:

“The statement from the NMFS Assistant Administrator (Eileen Sobeck) was clear about what the agency’s best science has put forward regarding the decline in the Pacific Sardine population. Namely, without continued successful recruitment, the population of any spp. will decline – irrespective of imposed management strategies.”

It is also  important to note that we are working closely with the SWFSC and have worked collaboratively whenever possible.

I would greatly appreciate it if you would again post Sobeck’s statement to counter the inaccurate implications and misstatements in  Elizabeth Grossman’s piece.

Diane Pleschner-Steele
California Wet Fish Producers Association

PS:   I also informed Elizabeth Grossman when we talked that our coastal waters are now teeming with both sardines and anchovy, which the scientific surveys have been unable to document  because the research ships survey offshore and the fish are inshore.

Sobeck’s statement follows:

Researchers, Managers, and Industry Saw This Coming: Boom-Bust Cycle Is Not a New Scenario for Pacific Sardines
A Message from Eileen Sobeck, Head of NOAA Fisheries
Apri 23, 2015

Pacific sardines have a long and storied history in the United States. These pint-size powerhouses of the ocean have been — on and off — one of our most abundant fisheries. They support the larger ecosystem as a food source for other marine creatures, and they support a valuable commercial fishery.

When conditions are good, this small, highly productive species multiplies quickly. It can also decline sharply at other times, even in the absence of fishing. So it is known for wide swings in its population.

Recently, NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council received scientific information as a part of the ongoing study and annual assessment of this species. This information showed the sardine population had continued to decline.

It was not a surprise. Scientists, the Council, NOAA, and the industry were all aware of the downward trend over the past several years and have been following it carefully. Last week, the Council urged us to close the directed fishery on sardines for the 2015 fishing season.  NOAA Fisheries is also closing the fishery now for the remainder of the current fishing season to ensure the quota is not exceeded.

While these closures affect the fishing community, they also provide an example of our effective, dynamic fishery management process in action. Sardine fisheries management is designed around the natural variability of the species and its role in the ecosystem as forage for other species. It is driven by science and data, and catch levels are set far below levels needed to prevent overfishing.

In addition, a precautionary measure is built into sardine management to stop directed fishing when the population falls below 150,000 metric tons. The 2015 stock assessment resulted in a population estimate of 97,000 metric tons, below the fishing cutoff, thereby triggering the Council action.

The sardine population is presently not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. However, the continued lack of recruitment of young fish into the stock in the past few years would have decreased the population, even without fishing pressure. So, these closures were a “controlled landing”. We saw where this stock was heading several years ago and everyone was monitoring the situation closely.

This decline is a part of the natural cycle in the marine environment. And if there is a new piece to this puzzle — such as climate change — we will continue to work closely with our partners in the scientific and management communities, the industry, and fishermen to address it.

 

Read/Download Elizabeth Grossman’s article: Some Scientists and NGO’s Argue West Coast Sardine Closure was too Late


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Jun 19 2015

West Coast Fish Species Recovers Decades Ahead Of Schedule

fishFishery managers say canary rockfish have recovered from being overfished decades ahead of schedule.

Fishery managers say two valuable West Coast groundfish have recovered ahead of schedule: canary rockfish and petrale sole.

That’s good news for the fishing industry. The fleet has been restricted from catching healthy stocks of fish that swim alongside these protected species at the bottom of the ocean.

For more than a decade, canary rockfish have been what’s considered a “choke” species. That is, protecting them choked off fishing access to other valuable species like Dover sole and black cod.

There were so few canaries left, no one was allowed to catch very many, according to John DeVore, a groundfish manager with the Pacific Fishery Management Council. Assessments in 2000 found the canary rockfish population was down to 6.6 percent of the “unfished biomass” or what it was estimated to be before people started fishing it. It was hard to catch other fish at the bottom of the ocean without the risk of also catching a canary.

“It really affected our fisheries as dramatically as any species ever has,” he said. “These fish tend to be found in lots of different places. A lot of our conservation management measures were affected by canary rockfish.”

Efforts to rebuild canary rockfish led managers to close entire sections of the ocean to fishing. They also contributed to a total redesign of the commercial trawl fishery. The new fishery gives fishing boats ownership shares of the available catch. It’s designed to give fishers a financial incentive to avoid protected species like canary rockfish. The latest assessment shows canary rockfish have increased by roughly sixfold since 2000.

Managers didn’t expect the canaries to rebound until 2057. So, they’re way ahead of schedule. Another valuable ground fish, petrale sole, was declared overfished five years ago. And stock assessments show it’s already rebuilt as well.

Other species, including yelloweye rockfish, are still considered overfished. But fishermen say they’re looking forward to having fewer restrictions and higher catch limits now that two key species have been restored.

Brad Pettinger, director of the Oregon Trawl Commission, said at one point the canary rockfish catch limit for the entire West Coast was just 40 tons while the limits for other species were 10,000-20,000 tons. If the fleet caught too many canaries while targeting other fish, the entire fishery would be shut down.

“We used to catch 400,000 tons of canary rockfish back in the heyday,” he said. “It’s not like we want to go out and catch that many as soon as it’s rebuilt, but this should open up a lot of opportunity to catch other fish. It is good news, and we’re darn thankful.”

The process of protecting and rebuilding overfished stocks has taken a big toll on the number of groundfish boats in operation on the West Coast. Before 1994, Pettinger said, there were 500 trawl vessels catching groundfish. Now, he said, the fleet is down to about 70 boats coastwide.


Read the original post: http://kuow.org

Jun 12 2015

Why Is This Fisherman Selling Threatened Bluefin Tuna For $2.99 A Pound?

Pacific bluefin tuna for sale for $2.99 per pound at the fish market in San Diego. That shockingly low price does not reflect the deeply threatened state of the bluefin population.

Pacific bluefin tuna for sale for $2.99 per pound at the fish market in San Diego. That shockingly low price does not reflect the deeply threatened state of the bluefin population.

 

Twenty minutes before the San Diego Tuna Harbor Dockside Market was set to open, the line was 75 people deep and starting to curl past the pier. The crowd here last Saturday didn’t come for the local sand dabs or trap-caught black cod. They were bargain hunters looking to score freshly caught, whole Pacific bluefin tuna for the unbelievably low price of only $2.99 a pound.

That’s less per pound for this fish — a delicacy prized for its fatty flesh, whose numbers are rapidly dwindling — than the cost of sliced turkey meat at a supermarket deli.

It’s a low price that doesn’t reflect the true state of Pacific bluefin: Scientists and environmentalists say the species is in deep trouble. According to population estimates, stocks of Pacific bluefin tuna are at historic lows, down 96 percent from the levels they’d be at if they weren’t fished.

But commercial fishermen like David Haworth, who brought this pile of small, steely gray bluefin to market, say that assessment doesn’t match up with what they’re seeing in the water: a record-smashing abundance of Pacific bluefin tuna.

“Our spotter pilots that have been fishing with us for up to 40 years here say they’re seeing the most bluefin they’ve ever seen in their lifetimes, and our government is not documenting any of it,” says Haworth.

Haworth, 52, is the last purse-seine tuna fisherman in San Diego — a city once heralded as the tuna capital of the world. Making a living isn’t easy for commercial fishermen like Haworth. For much of the year he fishes for squid, but El Nino patterns have changed fishery patterns, making squid harder to find. And forget about the sardine fishery — crashing stocks have triggered its closure until 2016.

At the same time, warmer ocean conditions have brought an abundance of bluefin tuna into the region, shifting Haworth’s focus.

Historically, he says, “there was never really a quota on bluefin, and we could go out and catch plenty and sell them. Or we could catch sardines, or mackerel, so we’d have something to do when [ocean] conditions changed” or when the species that Haworth depended on for his income became less reliable. “Now, we’re just so restricted.”

Bluefin tuna has long been listed as a species to “avoid” by influential groups like the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. It’s a warning that many seem to have taken to heart. And it means the higher prices fishermen like Haworth used to count on for bluefin are no longer a sure thing.

Haworth says wholesalers who used to clamor for his bluefin now pass on it, preferring yellowfin tuna instead. Supermarkets and chefs that once eagerly purchased bluefin have pledged not to carry it. Fellow San Diego fisherman Tory Becker tried to sell some of Haworth’s bluefin tuna at a local farmers market last week and was publicly scolded by a customer.

Haworth says that the buyer he had originally lined up for his haul backed out of the sale, then later offered him a mere $1-$2 a pound — too low for him to break even. Instead, he took his catch and headed for San Diego’s fledgling fishers market to sell directly to local foodies.

“If you have a 30-pound fish, and you’re selling it to a consumer for $2.99 a pound, it’s $90 for one fish. I was trying to get to the price point where we’re going to make decent money, but one where every family could come down and grab a fish if they want one,” says Haworth.

But the bounty of bluefin that California fishermen like Haworth report seeing is not what it seems, scientists say.

“It’s a very difficult task to count animals as elusive as tuna,” says Craig Heberer, the West Coast regional coordinator for recreational fisheries for NOAA Fisheries. “The increase in the number of bluefin spotted by Southern California fishermen likely [reflects] a change in the percentage of migrating fish, not the overall population numbers.”

Pacific bluefin off the coast of California and Mexico aren’t counted in current stock assessments. That’s because spawning grounds for Pacific bluefin are located in the western Pacific Ocean, near Japan. Some, but not all, of those fish then migrate to the U.S. West Coast and Mexico to feed. Counting them where they spawn, rather than where only a portion of them migrate, is how regulators say they get the most accurate information.

The migration to the U.S. side of the Pacific happens when bluefin are between 1 and 3 years old, which also explains why the tuna Haworth caught were so small — just 20 to 30 pounds each. They’re technically still juveniles that haven’t had the opportunity to reproduce and help replenish bluefin numbers. Mature Pacific bluefin can reach 1,200 pounds, and don’t typically reproduce until they’re closer to 5 years old. By that point, they would have already migrated back to their spawning grounds on the other side of the Pacific.

Theresa Sinicrope Talley, a coastal specialist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, says local fishermen like Haworth are simply catching what’s plentiful and pricing it to local demand.

“They’re trying to make this business work. They’re aware,” she says. “They don’t want to harm the environment, either — their livelihood depends upon it.”

“From their perspective,” she says, “they’re abiding by the law.”

In recent years, Haworth and other commercial fisherman in the U.S. have seen the amount of bluefin they’re allowed to catch slashed drastically as part of international agreements. Bluefin were once reliably lucrative for Haworth, but the cuts have affected his ability to make a living, he says. And he feels strongly that in the larger scheme of things, the amount of bluefin he catches is so small, it doesn’t negatively impact global stocks.

“Mexico now has a quota of 6,000 metric tons of fish over two years,” he notes, while the quota for U.S. commercial fishermen is just a tenth of that. “How could our 600 metric tons not be sustainable, when you think about it in the picture of the whole world? We’re only catching 600 tons,” says Haworth.

Haworth says he often feels villainized by environmental groups for fishing for this vulnerable species. But not everyone blames small fishermen like him for declining stock levels. Some are pointing the finger at the very organizations that oversee bluefin fisheries and set the world’s catch limits.

Andre Boustany, a research scientist and bluefin expert at Duke University, faults the agencies that manage the fishery for failing to conduct a full assessment of Pacific bluefin stock until 2012 — “well after massive damage had already been done.”

“While Pacific bluefin tuna are not currently listed as endangered in the U.S., that could change if the stock maintains its current trajectory. And I say that as a scientist that is most definitely not an alarmist,” Boustany says.

The Pew Charitable Trusts plans to call for stronger measures to protect Pacific bluefin later this month, when the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission — the agency responsible for setting international catch limits — meets in Ecuador.

“We would disagree that the quotas, as they are currently set, are sustainable,” says Jamie Gibbon, a tuna expert with Pew.

But there’s still hope for the Pacific bluefin — and for fishermen like Haworth. For years its cousin, the Atlantic bluefin, was also experiencing rapidly declining stocks, garnering lots of headlines and hand-wringing. All that attention now seems to be paying off: This year, for the first time since 2006, stocks are healthy enough that catch quotas were actually increased by 20 percent. Gibbon says it’s not too late for the Pacific bluefin, either.

“This is a population that can recover, and can recover in a relatively short amount of time,” he says.


Read the original post: www.kplu.org

May 14 2015

Demystifying Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management

header_noaa

Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) became a major initiative of resource managers around the world beginning in the 1990s.  Unlike traditional management approaches that focused solely on the biology of a particular stock, EBFM provides a more holistic approach to fisheries management – one that takes into account the complex suite of biological, physical, economic, and social factors associated with managing living marine resources.

EBFM has continued to evolve over the past 20 years and is now a cornerstone of NOAA Fisheries’ efforts to sustainably manage the nation’s marine resources.  But despite substantial progress in the science behind and application of EBFM, a perception remains that the science and governance structures to implement EBFM are lacking, when in fact they have already been resolved in the United States and other developed countries.  An April 2015 article in Fisheries took on the important challenge of identifying some of the most common myths that can impede the implementation of EBFM.  Here’s a look at some of them.


 

Myth 1: Marine ecosystem-based management lacks universal terminology, making it difficult to implement.

FALSE
The scientific literature provides clear and consistent definitions of marine ecosystem-based management and associated terminology.  There are three primary levels of ecosystem-based management in relation to marine fisheries that differ by focus area. Full definitions can be found in the paper. From most comprehensive to least comprehensive, the three levels differ by their key focus:
  1. Ecosystem approaches to fisheries management (EAFM) focus on a single fisheries stock and include other factors that can influence a stock.
  2. Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM)  focuses on the fisheries sector (multiple fisheries).
  3. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) focuses on multiple sectors, such as fisheries, ecotourism, and oil and gas exploration.

 


 

Myth 2: There’s no clear mandate for EBFM.

FALSE
For the past 20 years, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, combined with more than 90 separate federal legislative mandates, either implicitly or explicitly have given NOAA authority to implement an ecosystem-based approach to management.  NOAA Fisheries specifically has been fully engaged during this period to implement EBFM, in order to more efficiently and effectively fulfill its key mandate – stewardship of the nation’s living marine resources and their habitats, interactions, and ecosystems. Rather than waiting for the perfect mandate to move forward with EBFM, managers, scientists, and policymakers can and should move forward within current authorities.

 


 

Myth 3: EBFM requires extensive data and complicated models.

FALSE
A common misconception is that EBFM requires comprehensive data and complex models, and can only be applied in exceptional, data-rich circumstances.  The reality is that EBFM begins with what is known about the ecosystem.  It provides a framework to use all available knowledge, whether it’s a detailed time series of species abundance or more descriptive local knowledge of the ecosystem.  When data are limited, approaches such as risk, portfolio, or loop analysis can be applied to work with available information.  These techniques provide managers with a tool to assess whether a fish population or the ecosystem is likely to reach a tipping point.The key point here is that EBFM allows managers to work with the information available to best manage the resources in an ecosystem, aware of all the parts of the system simultaneously.

 


 

Myth 4: EBFM results will always be conservative and restrictive.

FALSE
There is an existing perception that applying EBFM will always result in a more precautionary approach to management and reduced catch limits.  The rationale is that accounting for more uncertainty as well as focusing on conserving protected or non-target species will lead to more restrictive management measures that further reduce catches below maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels.  A better question might be, why would stakeholders ignore the best available science and jeopardize the resiliency of the stocks and ecosystem? Fisheries scientists over the past half century have criticized the concept of maximum sustainable yield for single species because of the impossibility of achieving MSY for all species simultaneously.Furthermore, some studies show that when management applies EBFM and focuses on the combined landings and value of all targeted species in an ecosystem, the landings are comparable to the amounts under single-species management.  Plus, there may be long-term economic benefits for multiple fisheries when the system is managed as a whole.

 


 

Myth 5: EBFM is a naïve attempt to describe a complex system.

FALSE
Proponents see EBFM as a solution, whereas critics see it as an approach that falls short of addressing the many socioeconomic, political, and other challenges inherent in marine resource management.  Scientific agencies worldwide have traditionally given fishery management advice on a stock-by-stock basis rather than consider multiple fisheries and multiple user groups. But ignoring the trade-offs, or the existence of multiple objectives, does not make them go away.  Different stakeholders often have competing interests, and it is important to acknowledge these differences and identify management options that optimize the full range of interests.  Strategies can often meet multiple objectives, such that no one stock, fishery, sector, economy, or community is unknowingly depleted at the expense of another. Ultimately, EBFM is about trade-off analysis – examining which options meet the most objectives as a collective system.

 


 

Myth 6: There aren’t enough resources to do EBFM.

FALSE
A final myth is that it will take substantially more resources – more funding, staff, data, and sophisticated models – to implement EBFM.  But EBFM implementation actually has the potential to increase efficiencies.  Many national and international working groups currently exist to support single-species management efforts.  A transition to EBFM allows multiple species to be addressed through a more integrated assessment process, thus requiring fewer working groups.  This has the potential to reduce staff workloads and consolidate modeling efforts.  In addition, applying EBFM has been shown to improve the stability of marine ecosystems, which translates into improved regulatory and economic stability and better business planning.

 

Dispelling the myths and taking action

These myths have discouraged some managers from even trying EBFM and have prevented them from getting the best available information needed for resource management.  Instead of viewing EBFM as a complex management process that requires an overabundance of information, it should be viewed as a framework to help managers work with the information they have and address competing objectives.   To learn more about EBFM and how NOAA is implementing it, click here.


Read the original post:  www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov

May 14 2015

West Coast sardine fishery being shut down

Sardine commercial fishery shutdown: Story and video — www.kionrightnow.com

Includes interviews with CWPA Board members Anthony Russo and David Crabbe.

Crabbe

May 5 2015

Study of Central Coast marine reserves finds signs of fish recovery

Researchers say more time is needed for fish populations to flourish

MorroBayFishermensWharfTourists stop to watch fish being unloaded at the Morro Bay Fishermen’s Wharf.
DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

 

Fish populations have shown signs of rebounding in state marine protected areas off California’s Central Coast, but more time is needed for them to flourish, according to a recent study conducted by Cal Poly and the California Sea Grant.

The study was published in March in Plos One, a peer-reviewed journal by the Public Library of Science.

The study examined the first seven years of monitoring of fish within four marine protected areas (MPAs) between San Francisco and Morro Bay.

Fishing within MPAs is generally prohibited or severely limited to allow refuges for fish species that are harvested commercially.

MPAs make up about 18 percent of the state water territory.

“These marine reserves are going to work, but they’re not a short-term solution for commercial fisheries,” said the study’s lead author, Rick Starr, director of the California Sea Grant’s Extension Program.

Starr said that fish populations go up and down based on environmental conditions, and they’ve not detected much difference in populations inside and outside the protected areas.

“In the seven years of data examined, we didn’t see much change that could be attributed to the MPA status,” Starr said.

That could be partly due to reduced fishing pressure through regulations in non-protected areas, the scientists said.

However, Starr believes more time is needed to assess the newer MPAs.

In comparison, the much older Point Lobos State Marine Reserve, protected since 1973, is thriving with an abundance of fish.

Cal Poly biological resources researcher Dean Wendt, a co-author of the study, said about 20 fish per hour can be caught recreationally in Point Lobos near Monterey — compared to about seven fish per hour in the MPAs Año Nuevo (north of Santa Cruz), Piedras Blancas (between Morro Bay and Monterey) and Point Buchon (near Morro Bay). That’s an indicator that the Point Lobos zone is far more populated.

Reaction

A director with the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization, Jeremiah O’Brien, said that he has appreciated the collaboration between fishermen and scientists in the research.But O’Brien said he’s skeptical about the type of ocean management that blocks off large areas off the coast from fishing.

“These MPAs were mandated by many who know nothing about fishing and less about ocean issues,” O’Brien said. “There are many management tools available, and this is a poor choice. Seven years and there is no difference — one would think that there would be some noticeable change no matter how small.”

O’Brien, however, added that “we have a lot of respect for Dean Wendt, and he always tries to include commercial fisherman in his work.”

More research details

Starr and Wendt, who is dean of research in Cal Poly’s biological sciences department, coordinated with a team of marine researchers and more than 700 volunteer fishermen to sample fish within and outside of the protected areas.The scientists attribute the study results to several factors, including the longer life and reproductive cycles of cold-water California fish, including some that live to be more than 50 years old and can take several years to reproduce.

However, lingcod, which take 3 to 5 years to mature, have seen increases in population within the MPAs, Wendt said.

Fish recruitment — meaning how well local juvenile fish are surviving — is another factor.

In some years, conditions can be right for juvenile fish to significantly add to the population, while in other years ocean currents channel them farther out to sea, where they die. In El Niño years, juvenile fish don’t have enough to eat.

Rockfish recruitment is particularly sporadic, meaning it can be more difficult to gauge how well the MPAs are working.

The idea behind the MPAs is that eventually the protected zones will contribute to a “spillover” effect in which species move from the protected areas to surrounding ocean vicinities to help grow populations.


Read the original post: www.sanluisobispo.com

Apr 29 2015

Ray Hilborn Asks If the Drive for MPA’s is Environmentally Shortsighted

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

SEAFOODNEWS.COM  [SeafoodNews]  April 29 2015


Most NGO’s assume that Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) are an unmitigated good, with little thought to their impact on the global food system.


But, converting large areas of productive fisheries to no-take zones, while appealing to NGO’s, actually may increase global environmental degredation.


The reason, says Professor Ray Hilborn in our latest video, is that marine protein is essential to global food systems, and as countries get richer and consumer more protein, you must ask where that protein will come from.


Already one quarter of all the ice-free landmass on earth is used for grazing animals.  Growing and feeding beef cattle is very land and energy intensive.


Hilborn says “Most ecolabeling systems make no connection between what we do in the oceans and what we do elsewhere.”


He goes on to say that unless you consider how marine protein is going to be replaced, such a narrow view of priorities could make global environmental problems worse, not better.


To supply the current level of marine protein from land based animals would require an area 22 times larger than all global rainforests put together.


Subscribe to SEAFOODNEWS to watch the video— Ray Hilborn: Eat a Fish, Save a Rainforest



Copyright © 2015 Seafoodnews.com
Apr 24 2015

Researchers, Managers, and Industry Saw This Coming: Boom-Bust Cycle Is Not a New Scenario for Pacific Sardines

pac_sardine_noaaswfsc

A Message from Eileen Sobeck, Head of NOAA Fisheries

Pacific sardines have a long and storied history in the United States. These pint-size powerhouses of the ocean have been — on and off — one of our most abundant fisheries. They support the larger ecosystem as a food source for other marine creatures, and they support a valuable commercial fishery. When conditions are good, this small, highly productive species multiplies quickly. It can also decline sharply at other times, even in the absence of fishing. So it is known for wide swings in its population.

Recently, NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fishery Management Council received scientific information as a part of the ongoing study and annual assessment of this species. This information showed the sardine population had continued to decline. It was not a surprise. Scientists, the Council, NOAA, and the industry were all aware of the downward trend over the past several years and have been following it carefully. Last week, the Council urged us to close the directed fishery on sardines for the 2015 fishing season.  NOAA Fisheries is also closing the fishery now for the remainder of the current fishing season to ensure the quota is not exceeded.

While these closures affect the fishing community, they also provide an example of our effective, dynamic fishery management process in action. Sardine fisheries management is designed around the natural variability of the species and its role in the ecosystem as forage for other species. It is driven by science and data, and catch levels are set far below levels needed to prevent overfishing.  In addition, a precautionary measure is built into sardine management to stop directed fishing when the population falls below 150,000 metric tons. The 2015 stock assessment resulted in a population estimate of 97,000 metric tons, below the fishing cutoff, thereby triggering the Council action.

The sardine population is presently not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. However, the continued lack of recruitment of young fish into the stock in the past few years would have decreased the population, even without fishing pressure. So, these closures were a “controlled landing”. We saw where this stock was heading several years ago and everyone was monitoring the situation closely.

This decline is a part of the natural cycle in the marine environment. And if there is a new piece to this puzzle — such as climate change — we will continue to work closely with our partners in the scientific and management communities, the industry, and fishermen to address it.

To learn more about this amazing fish, go to these websites:

FishWatch

NOAA Southwest Fishery Science Center

NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region

Pacific Fishery Management Council


Read the original post: www.nmfs.noaa.gov