Archive for December, 2010

Dec 18 2010

Commercial Market Squid Fishery Closes December 17

Based on landings information and projections, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) biologists expected that the season’s harvest limit of 118,000 short tons of market squid would be reached by Friday, December 17. The squid fishing season runs from April through the following March of each year, and the fishery closure will remain in effect through March 31, 2011. This is the first season the harvest limit has been attained since it was implemented by the Fish and Game Commission in 2004 as part of the California Market Squid Fishery Management Plan.

Squid fishermen and processors have assisted DFG in tracking daily catches this fall, as record squid abundance signaled the likelihood of reaching the harvest limit, established to ensure the squid fishery does not expand beyond levels experienced in the 1990s. “The wetfish industry and California Wetfish Producers Association (CWPA) are very pleased to partner with DFG to ensure a sustainable market squid resource and fishery,” says California Wetfish Producers Association Executive Director Diane Pleschner-Steele.

”The mission of the nonprofit CWPA is to facilitate collaborative research and management of our marine resources,” Pleschner-Steele explains.  “Our market squid research program predicted a good season this fall, but this has been truly amazing.”

Under the supervision of Dr. Doyle Hanan, retired DFG senior marine biologist supervisor formerly responsible for market squid and coastal pelagic fisheries, squid fishermen have learned how to tow scientific bongo nets to collect squid hatchlings, called paralarvae.  They time these field surveys to coincide with quarterly California Cooperative Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) oceanic research cruises.  Dr. Hanan has observed a correlation between increased paralarvae abundance and a productive fishery six- to nine months later.

(Learn more about CWPA’s market squid research program here.)

The presence of market squid is strongly correlated with environmental factors, such as water temperature and nutrient availability. In warm water years, such as during El Niño events, squid abundance drops sharply and landings decline. However, when water temperatures cool, even after severe warm water events, market squid numbers can rebound dramatically.

“Recent favorable environmental conditions generated the current surge in market squid abundance, says Dr. Hanan.  “The fact is there were plenty of adult squid and eggs produced to take advantage of these environmental conditions. This huge biomass has occurred while a squid fishery continued and a fishery management plan controlled fishing activities. From a fishery science and biological standpoint, this indicates that the management plan is indeed working.”

“We have had a banner year for market squid this year,” says Dale Sweetnam, DFG senior marine biologist who now oversees the commercial market squid fishery.  “In California, we have had squid landings from La Jolla to Half Moon Bay and reports that market squid are abundant off many of the offshore banks, the Channel Islands, as well as off Baja California.  The colder than normal water conditions we have observed since February have provided optimal conditions for squid spawning.”

According to the DFG News Release, market squid is by far California’s largest and most valuable commercial fishery. In 2009, just over 100,000 tons were landed with an ex-vessel value of $56.5 million. California market squid is used domestically for food – often identified as “calamari” in restaurants – and is an important international commodity. Last year, California fish businesses exported market squid to 36 countries with China the leading importer of California market squid.

The harvest limit is one of many provisions governing the squid fishery, which has been managed under the state’s Market Squid Fishery Management Plan (MSFMP) since 2005. The goals of the MSFMP are to ensure long-term conservation and sustainability of the market squid resource, reduce the potential for overfishing and provide a framework for management. In addition to the harvest limit, weekend closures were implemented to allow for periods of uninterrupted spawning each week.

The MSFMP was developed under the provisions set forth by California’s Marine Life Management Act (MLMA), which became law in 1999. The MLMA created state policies, goals and objectives to govern the conservation, sustainable use and restoration of California’s living marine resources.

(Read the entire DFG news release announcing the fishery closure here.)

Dec 18 2010

Squid fishery has banner year; season closes early

By Zeke Barlow

December 15, 2010

The hard part for the Ventura County squid fishery this year wasn’t catching the squid – it was catching too many.

“The biggest challenge is not catching too much at once,” said Joe Cappuccio, president of Del Mar Seafoods. There were so many squid swimming off Ventura County’s coast this year that when his boats would set their nets around a school, they had to make sure they didn’t get too many and risk overloading the boats.

This was the best year for squid fishermen in more than a decade, but it also marks the first time the state’s squid fleet met the cap that California Department of Fish and Game imposed in 2004. On Friday, the fishery will meet the limit of 118,000 tons of squid caught in the state. The squid fishing season will close, reopening in April.

“This has been an amazing year,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, with the industry group California Wetfish Producers Association.

Read more.

Dec 18 2010

California Fish and Game Commission Gives Final Approval for South Coast Marine Protected Areas

The California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) adopted regulations to create a new suite of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Southern California. At a Commission meeting in Santa Barbara today, the regulations were adopted as part of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which requires California to reexamine and redesign its system of MPAs with the goals to, among other things, increase the effectiveness of MPAs in protecting the state’s marine life and habitats, marine ecosystems and marine natural heritage.

Informed by recommendations generated through a two-year public planning process, the regulations will create 36 new MPAs encompassing approximately 187 square miles (8 percent) of state waters in the study region. Approximately 116 square miles (4.9 percent) have been designated as no-take state marine reserves (82.5 square miles/3.5 percent) and no-take state marine conservation areas (33.5 square miles/1.4 percent), with the remainder designated as state marine conservation areas with different take allowances and varying levels of protection. In addition to approving the MPA regulations, the Commission also certified the environmental impact report prepared pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act.

Read the rest of the news release here.

Dec 18 2010

State panel approves creation of protected marine area off Southern California coast

December 15, 2010

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — State wildlife regulators voted Wednesday to create a zone of protected areas off the Southern California coast where fishing and other activities will be restricted or banned.

The Fish and Game Commission listened to hours of public comment before approving the marine protected area along a 250-mile arc of coastline from the Mexican border to Santa Barbara County.

To comply with the state’s Marine Life Protection Act of 1999, California’s 1,100-mile coast was divided into five sections. Two protected areas were previously created in Northern and Central California. Southern California is the third area to undergo the process.

The establishment of such areas has been a particularly thorny issue in Southern California, where conservationists, fishermen and seaside business interests have collided.

The commission voted 3-2 in favor of the protected area. Supporters clapped when the vote was cast. Many had urged the panel to increase the size of the protected locations within the reserve.

The process appeared to have done little to quell opposition, even though the proposal has been in the works for two years and was aired at dozens of public hearings.

Fishing industry experts expressed concern about the survival of their industry. California Fisheries Coalition manager Vern Goehring and others predicted lawsuits.

“The public image or message that proponents are giving is this is a great thing protecting the ocean,” Goehring said. “But in reality, most people know if you regulate fishing — which is already regulated — it doesn’t do anything new about water quality, coastal development and other threats.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Dec 17 2010

State doubles size of region’s marine reserves

By Mike Lee

December 15, 2010

Underwater state parks will nearly double in size across Southern California under a lightning-rod plan
approved Wednesday by California’s Fish and Game Commission to boost ocean health.

The strategy is less aggressive than what many conservationists wanted, but they praised it as a
good start toward recovering numerous species, from lobster to sheephead. The biggest impacts will be
felt by fishermen who said they will be squeezed into less-fertile waters, creating economic losses
and crowding.

Read the rest of the story here.

Dec 17 2010

Commission approves series of marine protected areas off California coast

By Joshua Molina Correspondent

December 15, 2010

Wearing droopy gray sweatpants and with a chewed up toothpick dangling from his mouth, 63-year-old Ace Carter sat on a folding chair in front of the Hotel Mar Monte proudly waving a protest sign — “Stop the enviro Nazis!”

A third-generation fisherman and licensed private detective, Carter arrived in front of the Santa Barbara hotel at 7 a.m. Wednesday to protest the California Fish and Game Commission’s vote on marine protected areas.

“There are plenty of fish,” Carter said. “This whole thing is a sham. It’s a done deal.”

About eight hours later, Carter’s fears came true.

In a historic vote, the Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 to approve a series of marine protected areas — essentially underwater parks designed to protect fish and block out fishermen.

The ocean, advocates say, has become polluted and the sheer numbers of fish have diminished because of overfishing. Critics of the plan say that the health of the ocean is fine and that creating protected areas only harms people who make a living off the sea.

The commission’s approval of the Integrated Preferred Alternative paves the way for the creation of more than four dozen marine protected areas over more than 300 miles, from Point Conception to Mexico along the Southern California coastline.

Read more here.

Dec 17 2010

State adopts network of protected marine areas

By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
December 16, 2010

Reporting from Santa Barbara – More than 350 square miles of ocean from Point Conception to the U.S.-Mexico border — about 15% of the Southern California coast — will be protected under a network of marine reserves narrowly approved by state wildlife officials.

The 3-2 vote Wednesday by the California Fish and Game Commission bans or restricts fishing
in 49 protected marine areas designed to replenish depleted fish populations and protect marine life.

Read the rest of the story here.

Dec 4 2010

Why do we keep hearing global fisheries are collapsing?

Some marine scientists say many of the world’s fish stocks are nearing collapse…but the data suggest otherwise. So why is the media still reporting that we’re on the verge of a fisheries apocalypse?

Peter Kareiva, Cool Green Science Blog, provides insight into this question, along with an article published in Science Chronicles by world-renown scientist Ray Hilborn.

Hilborn, an aquatic and fishery sciences professor at the University of Washington, writes in his article:

“If you have paid any attention to the conservation literature or science journalism over the last five years, you likely have gotten the impression that our oceans are so poorly managed that they soon will be empty of fish — unless governments order drastic curtailment of current fishing practices, including the establishment of huge no-take zones across great swaths of the oceans.

“To be fair, there are some places where such severe declines may be true. A more balanced diagnosis, however, tells a different story — one that still requires changes in some fishing practices, but that is far from alarmist. But this balanced diagnosis is being almost wholly ignored in favor of an apocalyptic rhetoric that obscures the true issues fisheries face as well as the correct cures for those problems.”

Read both reports here.