Archive for September, 2010

Sep 24 2010

Berkeley Chef Loves Sardines from Monterey Bay

Chef Alice Waters

Founder-owner of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, CA:

“As fishing worldwide has become more industrialized, it is very important to buy from local sustainable fisheries. I happen to love the sardines that come from Monterey Bay.

“At Chez Panisse, we like to fillet them, cure them lightly with salt, and marinate them with garlic, lemon, herbs, and good olive oil. They are delicious served slightly warmed on garlicky grilled toast.”

See more at Sunset magazine here.

Sep 23 2010

Researchers Encourage Greater Sardine Consumption, But Not Tuna

Thursday, September 23, 2010, 01:30 (GMT + 9)

A team of researchers from Spain and the United States are recommending a reduction in the consumption of tuna and an increase in intake of sardines, as both fish contain roughly the same nutrients. At the same time, scientists stress that consuming 100 grams of tuna will cause nearly 100 times more damage to the environment than 100 grams of sardines.

This was indicated by Enric Sala, a marine ecologist at the Centre d’Estudis Avançats of the Superior Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in Spain and the National Geographic Society, as well as Daniel Pauly, of the University of British Columbia in the United States

The experts co-directed the investigation, the results of which will be released in October in America, within an edition of the National Geographic magazine and after, in December, it will be released in the Spanish version, reports the newspaper La Vanguardia.

“If we preserve the marine ecosystems so that future generations can continue to eat fish as we do, we should consume less larger species such as tunas,” said Sala.

Read the rest of the story here.

Sep 20 2010

Collaborative Sardine Research Program Concludes Aerial Summer Survey

Local Sardine Fishermen Collaborate with Scientists to Improve Knowledge of Natural Resource

San Pedro, CA, Sept. 20, 2010 – San Pedro fishermen Nick Jurlin on the FV Eileen and Robert Terzoli on the FV Maria T made their final point sets –fishing for science– just hours before the summer sardine research project ended and the fall directed fishery began, at 12:01 AM September 15.

Sponsored by California’s wetfish industry, the summer aerial sardine survey, whose purpose is to provide a minimum estimate of sardine abundance, documented sardine schools from Cape Flattery in Washington State to Southern California, encompassing the area around all of the Channel Islands, where sardines were plentiful.  But the project was unable to conduct point sets in Monterey due to persistent fog and uncooperative fish.

Despite this, the project accomplished its overall goal of conducting three replicates of the aerial survey.

“Three repetitions provide enough information to establish a variance,” said Dr. Doyle Hanan, retired senior marine biologist supervisor for Department of Fish and Game, who directed field operations in California. “This will reduce uncertainty and provide a more accurate estimate of sardine abundance.”

Conducted in cooperation with the Northwest sardine industry, the project covered 66 random transects in all, with 40 in California. Transects were scientifically pre-determined and flown at an altitude of 4,000 feet, extending from the coast out 35 miles, and staged at 15-mile intervals. The high-tech camera systems installed in or attached to the planes photographed the ocean surface with 60 percent overlap, providing seamless coverage. The cameras were equipped with a 24 millimeter lens, covering about a one-mile swath of ocean every 15 miles. The total area of the survey encompassed about 1,000 miles along the west coast.

The survey was conducted as a two-stage project: Stage 1 consisted of aerial surveys to photograph sardine schools visible on the ocean surface along transects.  Stage 2 consisted of ‘point sets’, where fishermen wrap and harvest sardine schools of various sizes, which are weighed and biological samples taken at the dock. The fishing activity also is photo-documented, and point set photos are used to correlate the volume of fish caught to the area measurement of schools identified in the aerial photos to develop a minimum estimate of absolute biomass.

In all, California fishermen harvested a total of about 1,238 of the 2,100 metric tons allocated for the summer research project in California. Twenty-six point sets on schools ranging from five – 75 tons met the stringent requirements for use in the survey.  Fishermen were required to capture 90-100 percent of the school, and the pilot was required to photograph the vessel approach to the targeted school as well as the capture process.

The good news is the research succeeded overall.  However, the forces of nature battled the project every step of the way in California. A perfect storm of problems thwarted the research project in the Monterey area. Although the fog lifted just long enough to accomplish transects, fishermen standing by to conduct point sets were stymied, first by the persistent marine layer, then by fish behavior — as the only sardines spotted in the bay were congregated in the shallows near Santa Cruz in schools too large to conduct valid point sets. The final blow came when the owner of United Flight Services was killed along with his son in a tragic plane crash on Labor Day weekend, grounding the planes the association had chartered before the end of the research period.

The first photo in this series shows FV Eileen approaching a sardine school near Santa Cruz Island. The second photo shows the process of wrapping the school.  Fish were weighed and biological samples were taken at the dock. Fish were processed at Tri-Marine and State Fish Companies at cost, and the proceeds will help to fund the research. Approximately 861 metric tons remaining in the research quota at the end of the project will automatically be added to the fall directed fishing quota.

The research was approved by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which issued Experimental Fishing Permits to selected vessels to participate in the harvest of sardines outside the open fishing period. The sardine industry initiated the summer sardine research in 2009 and expanded it into Southern California in 2010.

FV Eileen approaching sardine school

FV Eileen wrapping school

Sep 20 2010

Ventura County Star: New study shows healthy sardine population along coast

Just how many sardines are swimming off the Pacific Coast?

According to new study, a lot more than were previously believed.

“It’s pretty apparent that there are a lot more fish than we thought,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association.

The association is just finishing a months-long project of flying over the Pacific Coast and taking photographs of the water to determine how many schools of sardines are swimming along. The photos are then enhanced and analyzed to estimate how many tons of fish are in the water.

Read the rest of the story here.

Sep 3 2010

Sardine Fishermen Hope Research Shows There are More Fish in the Sea

By Judith Wellner

Mid-County Post

Sept. 2, 2010

Sardine season has ended in the Monterey Bay, and fishermen are struggling to make ends meet due to the low fishing quotas and the shortening of fishing season. Quotas have dropped by more than 50 percent in the last few years.

In 2007, fisheries were allowed to harvest 152 metric tons of sardines. The number dropped to 66 metric tons in 2009. This year, it’s 72 metric tons.

Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association (CWPA), says that while government statistics say sardine stock assessments for the past three years have declined sharply, many fishermen – especially in the Pacific Northwest – report massive schools of sardines, which they believe aren’t being accurately counted.

Read more here.

Sep 2 2010

Sardine Research Update – Southern California Report

We extend huge thanks to Nick Jurlin on the FV Eileen, Robert Terzoli on the Maria T, and Neil Guglielmo on the Trionfo, as well as our pilots Jeff Luboff and Devin Reed for their dedication to this research.

Through August 28, they have completed 12 preliminarily acceptable sets, targeting the smaller schools (as instructed to do). For the next two weeks they’ll be targeting schools at the larger end of the spectrum — up to 80 tons.

Below is a photo of Nick Jurlin approaching a small school near the Northern Channel Islands; his target is highlighted with arrows. The pilot estimated the school at 5 tons; Nick estimated close to 6 tons, and the point set verified the weight at 5.3 tons. This photo was enhanced by Dr. Doyle Hanan, the scientific advisor and field coordinator for the research project, and shows numerous sardine schools.

Nick, Robert Terzoli and Vince Lauro will continue making point sets in Southern California until we fill the projected SoCal research allocation (about 1,050 metric tons). They have about 800 mt to go, but targeting the larger schools (i.e. 50-80 tons each), that tonnage should be caught relatively quickly.

All fish landed in Southern California will be processed either at Tri-Marine or State Fish Company.

Thanks to everyone involved in our California research project for your dedication and cooperation!

Sep 2 2010

Sardine Research Update – Northern California Report

Weather continued to play a confounding role in Northern California, but we managed to find enough reasonably clear days to complete one full set of 66 aerial transects coast-wide, from Cape Flattery WA south past Catalina Island in S.CA,. and nearly finished set #2 by the last weekend in August.

Three planes participated, with pilots flying at 4,000 feet altitude along predetermined straight line transects from shore out 35 miles. Transects were spaced at 15 mile intervals along the coast. Cameras mounted in the planes continuously photographed a swath of ocean approximately one mile wide along each transect path. Photo analysts will later examine the thousands of photos to identify sardine schools.

Three (replicates) is the charm that will help lower the coefficient of variation fraction applied to the estimate of biomass derived from photo analysis. Remember, last year’s survey completed only 41 of the scheduled 52 transects — with only one replicate.

This year, our target is 66 transects times 3 replicates. We’re nearly two-thirds of the way done with two weeks remaining. Finishing the third replicate should be doable.

The next challenge is landing acceptable point sets, and we’re making steady headway on that front as well.

In Monterey, while planes have been able to conduct aerial transects in the north, the combo of fish location (all piled up on the beach) and persistent marine layer offshore have precluded starting point sets in Monterey — until now.

Anthony and Andy Russo, Frank Aliotti, and now Neil Guglielmo, one of our southern research boats, who ventured up to Monterey, are standing at the ready to help initiate point sets in the northern region. One of our northern pilots, Geno Zandona, spotted fish at Soquel Hole, which means sardines may now be returning to the bay, as the abundance typically increases in September.

We’re hopeful the fish schools will spread out so we can conduct point sets in a broad area, as recommended by scientists.

Doyle Hanan advised the boats to prepare to go fishing on Tuesday, Aug. 31. Geno prepared to set the boats while the second pilot, and Allen Hewitt flies the twin engine Seminole to Crescent City to begin the third set of transects.

Although fog did not lift sufficiently in the Bay to fish on Aug. 31, we’re expecting a fair weather break for the next several days, and we should be able to make “hay” while the sun shines. Keep your fingers crossed!

This research project is likely to go down to the wire. We have until September 14 to wrap up the summer project. Then we’ll jump-start planning for our fall pilot project in Southern California, where we’ll evaluate three different techniques for measuring fish, all deployed at a time when sardines are abundant in California.
•  Daylight vs. night time photography
•  LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging): an optical remote sensing technology that measures properties of scattered light to find range and/or other information of a distant target, which can “see” 50 meters underwater
•  Hydroacoustics: utilizing SONAR technology, hydroacoustics is most commonly used for detection, assessment, and monitoring of underwater physical and biological characteristics