Posts Tagged sardines

Apr 18 2016

Sardine stories

hilborn
Ray Hilborn is a professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington and a founding partner of cfooduw.org. Find him on twitter @hilbornr.

At the end of February, Dr. Geoff Shester, California campaign director for the nonprofit advocacy group Oceana, criticized the Pacific Fishery Management Council for the persistence of low numbers of California sardines. The lack of a population recovery may cause the commercial moratorium to last until 2017.

The author explained this sardine population decline as being 93 percent less than it was in 2007. Shester does not believe this is because of environmental causes like climate change, El Niño or natural fluctuations in forage fish species, however. Instead he blames the management body.

“They warned of a population collapse, and the fishery management body basically turned a blind eye and continued moving forward with business as usual.”

Shester also cited recent sea lion deaths, specifically 3,000 that washed ashore in California in 2015.

“When fishing pressure occurs during a decline, which is exactly what happened here,” says Shester, “it puts the stock at such dramatically low levels it impedes any recovery potentially for decades.” Shester’s comments are some of the most dishonest commentary I have seen in the fisheries world.

He knows the NOAA scientists and Professor Tim Essington, in work funded by the Pew Foundation, have stated clearly that the decline in sardine abundance is due to natural causes. He also knows that sea lions are not dependent upon sardines; the die-off of sea lions is caused by the oceanographic conditions — not the result of fishing. In fact, reproductive failures of sea lions have occurred repeatedly in the past at times of high sardine abundance.

If he has read Essington’s paper (“Fishing amplifies forage fish population collapses”) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he would also know that there is no relationship between fishing and the duration of periods of low abundance of sardines and other forage fish.

The harvest rule for sardines is highly precautionary, even when sardines are at high abundance, the harvest rate is low. Indeed the harvest control rule for sardines matches very well the recommended harvest rule for forage fish that emerged from the Lenfest report — that is a low target harvest rate at high abundance with the fishery closed when the stock reaches low abundance.

Members of the Science and Statistical Committee of the Pacific Fishery Management Council have explained all this to Shester before. He simply continues to ignore science and pursue his own agenda.


Download the PDF of this article: http://www.nationalfisherman.com/images/pdfs/Article_PDFs/05_2016_NF_Sardine_Stories.pdf

Oct 7 2015

Researchers Keep Missing Picture on Sardines, Where there is a 1400 Year History of Boom and Bust

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

Copyright © 2015 Seafoodnews.com

Seafood News


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.

(Click on Image for larger Version)

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.


Copyright © 2015 Seafoodnews.com

Jun 29 2015

Book shows Monterey’s fishing, Italian history go hand in hand

MikeMike Ventimiglia talks about “Italians of the Monterey Peninsula” at the site where a plaque marks the approximate spot of his great uncle Salvatore Ventimiglia’s cannery on Cannery Row. (Vern Fisher — Monterey Herald)

 

MONTEREY >> The story of Italians in Monterey is the story of the local fishing industry.

Sicilians came here in waves in the early 1900s when a shift to sardine fishing required their special know-how. They kept Fisherman’s Wharf stocked and the canneries humming for nearly 50 years, turning Monterey into a boom town and establishing a cultural legacy that stands today.

Author Mike Ventimiglia chronicles their history in the recently published book “Italians of the Monterey Peninsula,” part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series. He will give a slide-illustrated talk and book signing at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Monterey Public Library.

Italian fishermen built on a foundation laid by Chinese immigrants, who commercialized fishing in Monterey Bay in the mid-1800s. Over half a century, squid and abalone gave way to salmon and sardines. When a Sicilian fisherman named Pietro Ferrante introduced lampara nets here, allowing for a bigger catch of sardines, the industry took off, sparking what came to be known as the Silver Harvest. Italian fishing families who had set up in Pittsburg, Martinez and other points north started flocking to the Monterey Peninsula.

Ventimiglia’s family was among them, moving here from Martinez in 1917. His father and uncles were fishermen, and his great uncle would eventually own a cannery here, near the present-day Monterey Bay Inn.

Two things were important to Italian fishermen, Ventimiglia said: their boats and their families.

“A fishing boat was probably the mainstay of most Italians,” he said. “The boats came before the house.”

The industry was on its way out by the time Ventimiglia was born in 1944, so his earliest memories of his father are not of him fishing on the Vagabond, but dealing cards on lower Alvarado Street.

Still, the feeling of a close-knit community ran deep.

“(My dad) was Sicilian, but he never spoke it in the house or around his children,” Ventimiglia said. “Then I would go down to the wharf with him and all of a sudden he’d start sputtering this weird language.”

Ventimiglia notes that Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf are still a major part of Monterey’s economy, with the emphasis now on tourism instead of fishing. He gives Italians credit for turning from fishermen into business owners.

“They were smart enough to switch gears,” he said.

Ventimiglia spent a year researching and writing the book. The hardest part, he said, was collating the hundreds of photos that are hallmarks of Arcadia books.

“I can get all the pictures of Italians in the world, but who are they?” he said “… I wanted to identify as many Italians as I could in the book, and that was the hard thing to get.”

The book covers Italians’ move to Monterey, the canneries, fishing boats and nets, and Santa Rosalia and other traditions. It has sparked another project to collect and publish a series of mini biographies of local Italians.

“To me what’s important is getting a piece of history out there,” Ventimiglia said.


Read the original post and view the video: MontereyHerald.com

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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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

Apr 29 2015

State and Federal Agencies Halt Commercial Sardine Fishing off California

Media Contacts:
Kirk Lynn, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 546-7167
Chelsea Protasio, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2994
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191

State and Federal Agencies Halt
Commercial Sardine Fishing off California

 

All large-volume commercial sardine fishing in state and federal waters off California has been prohibited as of Tuesday, April 28, 2015. The closing will remain in effect until at least July 2016.

“This may be an end of an era, but fortunately, the tough management decisions were made several years ago,” noted Marci Yaremko, CDFW’s representative to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), and fishery manager for coastal pelagic species, including sardines.

At its April 12 meeting, the Council recommended regulations that prohibit directed commercial fishing for Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) in California, Oregon and Washington for the upcoming fishing season, which would have begun July 1, 2015, and run through June 30, 2016. In light of revised stock biomass information and landings data for the current season, the Council also requested the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) close the fishery in the current season as quickly as possible. This closure takes effect today.

“The stock is in a state of decline, and now is too low to support large-scale fishing,” Yaremko explained. “Industry, government agencies and those looking out for non-consumptive interests have all worked together over the years to develop the harvest control rule we are using today, which defines when enough is enough.”

The Pacific sardine fishery in California was actively managed by the CDFW until 2000, when it was incorporated into the Council’s Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan. Since then, the fishery has been actively co-managed by the Council, NMFS, CDFW and Oregon and Washington’s Fish and Wildlife agencies.

California’s historic sardine fishery began in the early 1900s, peaked in the late 1930s and then declined rapidly in the 1940s. A 20-year moratorium on the directed fishery was implemented in the late 1960s. In the 1990s, increased landings signaled the population’s recovery. Numbers have since dropped again, significantly.

The Pacific sardine fishery continues to be a significant part of California’s economy at times. At the recent fishery’s peak in 2007, 80,000 metric tons (mt) of Pacific sardine was landed resulting in an export value of more than $40 million. The majority of California commercial sardine landings occur in the ports of San Pedro/Terminal Island and Monterey/Moss Landing.

The Pacific sardine resource is assessed annually, and the status information is used by the Council during its annual management and quota setting process. The Council adopted the 2015 stock assessment, including the biomass projection of 96,688 mt, as the best available science. Current harvest control rules prohibit large-volume sardine fishing when the biomass falls below 150,000 mt. The Council recommended a seasonal catch limit that allows for only incidental commercial landings and fish caught as live bait or recreationally during the 2015-16 season.

The decrease in biomass has been attributed, in part, to changes in ocean temperatures, which has been negatively impacting the species’ production. While the estimated population size is relatively low, the stock is not considered to be overfished. The early closure of the 2014-15 fishing season and the prohibition of directed fishing during the 2015-16 season are intended to help prevent the stock from entering an overfished state.

“Hard-working fishermen take pride in the precautionary fishery management that’s been in place for more than a decade,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, Executive Director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. “Thankfully the Pacific Fishery Management Council recognized the need to maintain a small harvest of sardines caught incidentally in other coastal pelagic fisheries. A total prohibition on sardine fishing would curtail California’s wetfish industry and seriously harm numerous harbors as well as the state’s fishing economy.”

Pacific sardine is considered to be an important forage fish in the Pacific Ocean ecosystem and is also utilized recreationally and for live bait in small volumes. CDFW protects this resource by being an active participant in this co-management process. CDFW has representatives on the Council’s advisory bodies, works closely with the industry to track Pacific sardine landings in California and runs a sampling program that collects biological information, such as size, sex and age of Pacific sardine and other coastal pelagic species that are landed in California’s ports. These landings and biological data are used by CDFW in monitoring efforts and are also used by NMFS in annual stock assessments.

For more information about Pacific sardine history, research and management in California, please visit CDFW’s Pacific sardine webpage at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/cpshms/.

 

sardinesSchool of sardines, Channel Islands CDFW file photo

California-Department-of-Fish-and-Wildlife-300x395

# # #

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

Apr 24 2015

Another View: Sardine population isn’t crashing

Sardine CollapseFreshly caught sardines awaiting sorting at West Bay Marketing in Astoria, Ore. On April 15, federal regulators approved an early closure of commercial sardine fishing off Oregon, Washington and California to prevent overfishing. Alex Pajunas Associated Press file

By D.B. Pleschner | Special to The Bee

Environmental groups such as Oceana complain that the sardine population is collapsing just as it did in the mid-1940s. They blame “overfishing” as the reason and maintain that the fishery should be shut down completely (“Starving sea lions spotlight overfishing,” Viewpoints, April 14).

In truth, Pacific sardines are perhaps the best-managed fishery in the world. The current rule – established in 2000 and updated last year with more accurate science – sets a strict harvest guideline. If the water temperature is cold, the harvest rate is low. And if the population size decreases, both the harvest rate and the allowable catch automatically decrease.

It’s inaccurate and disingenuous to compare today’s fishery management with the historic sardine fishery collapse that devastated Monterey’s Cannery Row. During the 1940s and ’50s, the fishery harvest averaged more than 43 percent of the standing sardine stock. Plus, there was little regulatory oversight and no limit on the annual catch.

Since the return of federal management in 2000, the harvest rate has averaged about 11 percent, ranging as low as 6 percent. Scientists recognize two sardine stocks on the West Coast: the northern stock ranges from northern Baja California to Canada during warm-water oceanic cycles and retracts during cold-water cycles. A southern or “temperate” stock ranges from southern Baja to San Pedro in Southern California. The federal Pacific Fishery Management Council manages only the northern stock.

Doing the math, our current fishery harvest is less than a quarter of the rate during the historical sardine collapse. The so-called “sardine crash due to overfishing” mantra now peddled by Oceana isn’t anything of the sort. It’s simply natural fluctuations that follow the changing conditions of the ocean, reflected in part by water temperature.

California’s wetfish industry relies on a complex of coastal species including mackerel, anchovy and squid, as well as sardines. Sardines typically school with all these species, so a small allowance of sardine caught incidentally in these other fisheries will be necessary to keep wetfish boats fishing and processors’ doors open.

Sardines are critically important to California’s historic wetfish industry. This industry produces on average 80 percent of total fishery catches, and close to 40 percent of dockside value. A total prohibition on sardine harvests could curtail the wetfish industry and seriously harm California’s fishing economy.

D.B. Pleschner is executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association.


Read the original post: www.sacbee.com

Apr 23 2015

Sardines are gone, long live the mackerel, with six recipes

ii7ccskn-recipe-dbMackerel baked with bay and lemon | Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

 *corrected figures of jack mackerel catch

There will be no California sardines in the market this summer. But, as much as we’ll miss them, that’s probably a good thing.

Monday the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the group responsible for setting catch limits for California fishermen, closed the sardine fishery completely, citing a 91% drop in sardine population. Beginning July 1, there will be no sardines caught from Mexico to British Columbia.

Although this may conjure up visions of Cannery Row and earlier sardine collapses, this closure could actually be a blessing in disguise. So rather than mourning it as a disaster, use it as an opportunity to expand your fishy horizons.

Unlike many fisheries, which remain relatively steady from year to year if managed properly, sardines have always been extremely cyclical — even before fishermen started catching them. Scientists analyzing ocean bed sediment have found evidence of sardine population collapses dating at least 1,700 years.

The most famous of these, of course, came in the 1940s and 1950s and drove the many Monterey Bay sardine canners out of business (inadvertently paving the way decades later for a terrific aquarium and tourist enclave).

In the 1930s, California fishermen caught as much as 700,000 tons of sardines; by the mid 1960s that had plummeted to only 1,000 tons. But just as people began talking about possible extinction, the fish came roaring back. As recently as 2012, there were nearly 100,000 tons caught.

The difference between then and now is that today there is a strong enough fisheries management program to at least minimize the human influence on this natural cycle. Sardines may come and go, but if fishermen keep catching them, they can turn a downturn into a disaster — as happened in Monterey. Closing the fishery is a way to let the population recover.

If you’re a sardine lover, though, what are you to do? First, you may still see imported sardines at Japanese fish markets such as Mitsuwa and Marukai, though they’ll probably be a little more expensive.

Perhaps a better solution is to swing with the cycle. Fish folk have long known that sardine and mackerel populations ebb and flow complementarily — when sardines are plentiful, mackerel tend to be scarce, and vice versa.

And sure enough, just as the jack mackerel catch off California crashed a couple of years ago (in 2011, only 60 tons were caught), the last few years have seen a tremendous rebound. In 2013, the last year for which statistics are available, almost 900 tons were caught.

Mourn the sardine, certainly, but take this opportunity to embrace the mackerel. Here’s six recipes to get you started.


Read the original post: www.latimes.com

Apr 22 2015

Ray Hilborn: Analysis Shows California Sardine Decline Not Caused by Too High Harvest Rate

Posted with permission from SEAFOODNEWS — Please do not repost without permission.


SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SeafoodNews]  (Commentary) by  Ray Hilborn April 22, 2015

California_sardine

Two items in the last weeks fisheries news have again caused a lot of media and NGO interest forage fish. First was publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of a paper entitled “Fishing amplifies forage fish population collapses” and the second was the closure of the fishery for California sardine.  Oceana in particular argued that overfishing is part of the cause of the sardine decline and the take home message from the PNAS paper seems to support this because it showed that in the years preceding a “collapse” fishing pressure was unusually high.


However what the PNAS paper failed to highlight was the real cause of forage fish declines.  Forage fish abundance is driven primarily by the birth and survival of juvenile fish producing what is called “recruitment”.  Forage fish declines are almost always caused by declines in recruitment,  declines that often happen when stocks are large and fishing pressure low.  The typical scenario for a stock collapse is (1) recruitment declines at a time of high abundance, (2) abundance then begins to decline as fewer young fish enters the population, (3)  the catch declines more slowly than abundance so the harvest rate increases, and then (4) the population reaches a critical level that was called “collapsed” in the PNAS paper.

 

Looking back at the years preceding collapse it appears that the collapse was caused by high fishing pressure, when in reality it was caused by a natural decline in recruitment that occurred several years earlier and was not caused by fishing.


The decline of California sardines did not follow this pattern, because the harvest control rule has reduced harvest as the stock declined,  and as fisheries management practices have improved this is now standard practice.  The average harvest rate for California sardines has only been 10% per year for the last 10 years, compared to a natural mortality rate of over 30% per year.  Even if there had been no fishing the decline in California sardine would have been almost exactly the same.


In many historical forage fish declines fishing pressure was much higher, often well over 50% of the population was taken each year and as the PNAS paper highlighted, this kind of fishing pressure does amplify the decline.  However many fisheries agencies have learned from this experience and not only keep fishing pressure much lower than in the past, but reduce it more rapidly when recruitment declines.


So the lesson from the most recent decline of California sardine is we have to adapt to the natural fluctuations that nature provides.  Yes, sea lions and birds will suffer when their food declines, but this has been happening for thousands of years long before industrial fishing.  With good fisheries management as is now practiced in the U.S. and elsewhere forage fish declines will not be caused by fishing.


Ray Hilborn is a Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington specializing in natural resource management and conservation.  He is one of the most respected experts on marine fishery population dynamics in the world.


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