ISSUES OF CONCERN

1.  We need to protect viable fishing communities along with marine resources:  Continued access to CPS resources is an ongoing issue of concern to California wetfish fishermen and processors. 
  • A recent study of global fishery systems found the California Current Ecosystem to have the most precautionary fishery management worldwide {Worm et al. Science 325, 578 (2009)}.   Yet renewed efforts to protect ecosystems and resources have not integrated state–federal regulatory policies. 

  • Squid – a California State fishery management plan enacted in 2004 included a limited-entry provision reducing the fleet from 164 to 77 transferable permits, continued statewide weekend closures, allowing squid to spawn freely, and established a maximum cap on harvest to protect against overexploitation.  In addition to these restrictions, the State is implementing a network of marine protected areas, including no-take reserves, as mandated in the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).  Approximately 19 percent of productive squid harvest grounds in the Channel Islands were closed in reserve in 2003.  Additional squid spawning grounds have been closed in Monterey, on the central coast and Farallon Islands off San Francisco, and still more productive squid grounds are now proposed for closure in southern CA.  The S.CA.closures are scheduled for adoption in October 2010. The network of marine protected areas implemented under the MLPA significantly restricts squid and wetfish harvesting – adding another layer of resource protection to already ultra-precautionary harvest regulations.  Unfortunately, policies guiding implementation of the MLPA do not consider existing fishery regulations.(Visit the website of the California Fisheries Coalition [http://www.cafisheriescoalition.org] for more information on the MLPA.)

  • Sardine – The issue of coast-wide allocation of the sardine harvest guideline generated heated controversy with the resurgence of the sardine fishery in the Pacific Northwest in the mid-1990s, shortly after the resource transferred to federal management.  In 2005 the Pacific Fishery Management Council modified the allocation framework at the request of the Northwest sardine industry, replacing the traditional area-based framework with a coast-wide seasonal release:  35 percent of the quota to be harvested January 1-June 30, 40 percent July 1-September 14, and the final 25 percent September 15 through December 31.   Resulting from this policy change, the expansion of the Northwest fishery, coupled with a significant decline in harvest guideline beginning in 2008, has pre-empted more than50 percent of California’s peak sardine harvest season, which occurs in fall and early winter. 

  •  Larger sardines typically migrate northward during spring and summer to feed, returning south in the fall and winter to spawn.  The Monterey fishery usually ramps up activity in late summer-early fall to harvest the larger, more valuable sardines on their southward migration, and the S.CA. fishery peak harvest occurs late fall through January-February of the following year. 

2.  Committing adequate resources to CPS research at both the state and federal level is essential to ensure that CPS stock assessments and harvest guidelines are developed utilizing best available science. 

  • Comprehensive biomass surveys along the entire west coast, particularly in the Northwest, are essential to measure the full extent of CPS resources, particularly sardines, as management measures and harvest guidelines are based on these assessments.

  • California’s wetfish industry has long supported cooperative research, and has helped substantially to fund both federal and state research efforts.

  • CWPA launched a collaborative research program for squid  (see Research for more information). In 2009 we cooperated with the Pacific Northwest sardine industry in an industry-sponsored coast-wide sardine aerial survey, conducted in August to measure the resource at its peak abundance in the Northwest.  Northwest sardine industry and CWPA are again cooperating in 2010 to replicate and extend the survey into S.CA.   CWPA is also launching a pilot survey in late fall to evaluate alternative survey methods, including night vs. daytime photography, lidar and hydroacoustics.  Our goal is to develop research methods for peer review in 2011 that most accurately measure sardine biomass during peak abundance in S.CA. in the fall.

  • Increased federal and state funding dedicated to collaborative research is critically important, Utilizing fishermen and their vessels in collaboration between government researchers and fishermen is a cost-effective way to improve knowledge of the resource and defray management costs.  

3.  California’s wetfish industry provides substantial economic benefits to port cities and regions in which it operates, as well as to the State as a whole.  Maintaining adequate infrastructure to foster, facilitate and expand operations is essential to the long-term viability of California’s wetfish industry.

  • With increased population and coastal development in the Golden State, the fishing industry is engaged in a continual battle to maintain access to sufficient dock space and nearby land for processing facilities.  Despite Coastal Commission policies giving preference to port-related uses and development, accommodating harbor-related growth as a top priority, the fishing industry’s continued use of prime waterfront land is in jeopardy. 

  • Administration and NOAA initiatives to develop a framework for coastal and marine spatial planning and new “catch share” allocation systems for fisheries threaten to close productive fishing grounds and disrupt the economic and cultural fabric of California’s currently sustainable fishing communities. 

    • Fishery leadership, including major CA fisheries and harbor representatives, should be at the decision table where the needs of harbor communities should be addressed and protected when developing ocean zoning policies. 

    • ‘Catch share’ programs should be developed and approved by the affected fishing interests with a goal to ensure sustainable harbor communities as well as fisheries. o    Regional or community-based allocations are uniquely suited to protect critically important fishing infrastructure and the social-economic-cultural fabric of fishing communities.
       
    • With reference to wetfish, California’s federal limited-entry sardine fishery now must compete with the recently expanded sardine industry in the Northwest.  Any resource allocation program developed for sardine should acknowledge the year-long importance of the sardine resource to California’s historic wetfish industry. 

4. The cost of doing business in California is increasing, caused in large part by the regulatory burden from a growing list of environmental initiatives (e.g. clean water, clean air, precautionary fishery management etc.)  Despite these costs, California’s wetfish industry must compete in a global marketplace.   

  • CA wetfish products face international competition from product produced by countries with lower operating costs and often protected by tariff and non-tariff trade barriers. In domestic markets, California wetfish products compete with a flood of lower priced imported product. We need to protect our domestic commercial fishing industry wherever possible in US trade negotiations.

  • U.S. trade policies should provide an equitable balance between “free trade” and support for U.S.producers /  exporters. 

5.  Coastal pelagic species {CPS} such as sardines are “transboundary” stocks that migrate from Mexico to Canada during their peak periods of abundance. The California CPS fishery is strictly managed under conservative harvest guidelines based on the population estimated in US waters minus the biomass estimated to exist south of the border. However, currently no such consideration or cooperation is reciprocated by Mexico. We must protect US fishermen in instances of shared marine resources. 

  • Cooperative tri-lateral management is essential between the US, Mexico and Canada to insureboth the long-term health of the resource and to avoid penalizing the US wetfish fishery anddomestic fishermen by unilaterally reducing their share of the harvest guideline.