Archive for February, 2012

Feb 27 2012

KION Radio: Monterey’s Harbormaster on Protecting Fishing in California

Steve Scheiblauer, Harbormaster of Monterey 

Steve Scheiblauer, Monterey’s harbormaster, discusses environmental groups efforts to stop a lawsuit that aims to massively curtail sport and commercial fishing in California on KION 1460 AM in Monterey, CA.


Listen to the interview online.

Feb 24 2012

Fishermen fight suit over forage limits; battle set over state’s dominant fisheries

Squid fishing boat in Monterey, California. Photo Credit: DP Pleschner

By JASON HOPPIN – Santa Cruz Sentinel

February 23, 2012

Note – The story below incorrectly states that the majority of California’s forage catch is used in the aquaculture industry. In actuality, most are canned for export and global consumption. Also, the scientific research utilized by the CWPA – and mentioned in the article – is peer reviewed by an independent science panel and was deemed the ‘best available science’. 


Joined by Monterey officials, California’s wetfish producers are fighting a lawsuit that aims for greater protections for anchovies, sardines and squid, setting the stage for a major battle over one of the state’s dominant fisheries.

So-called “wetfish,” also known as forage fish, live near the bottom of the food chain but make up a substantial percentage ofCalifornia’s commercial catch, including 97 percent of all landings in Moss Landing and Monterey. In December, environmentalists filed suit to change how the federal government manages those fisheries.

“If they were to prevail, I think we’d lose our industry,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, which asked a federal court on Tuesday for the right to intervene in the suit.

Much of the forage catch is shipped abroad to literally feed the global growth of fish farms, which raise salmon, tuna and other top fish predators popular with consumers. Squid are the exception, often heading directly to local plates as calamari appetizers or other delicious dishes, and now represents the state’s most valuable fishery.

But environmentalists, including Monterey-based Oceana, have raised alarms about forage fisheries, and in December filed suit to force the federal government to consider impacts on the broader marine ecosystem when setting limits.

“Basically, what Oceana’s trying to do is put this historic industry out of business,” Pleschner-Steele said, pointing to Monterey’s link with sardine fisheries of the past.

Read the rest at the San Jose Mercury News.

Feb 22 2012

Local Municipalities, Fishing Interests Intervene in Lawsuit to Protect Fishing in California

Groups Aim to Stop Extremist Lawsuit Seeking Drastic Cuts in Fishing Quotas

Monterey, Calif. – The California Wetfish Producers Association, a non-profit association promoting sustainable marine resources and fishing communities, announced today that it is working with a diverse group – including the City of Monterey and the Ventura Port District – to challenge a federal lawsuit by Oceana that would decimate California’s historic wetfish industry.

The group filed to intervene as defendants in the ongoing case by Earthjustice, representing Oceana, against the Secretary of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Oceana wants deep and unnecessary cutbacks in sardine fishing, as well as substantial harvest reductions in other “forage fish” fisheries, including herring, anchovies and squid – which are also already managed strictly and sustainably.

“Fishing for coastal pelagic species in California is under attack. Oceana has based this lawsuit on pseudo-scientific studies loaded with faulty calculations and conclusions, all to force federal regulators to massively curtail fishing limits, if not ban fishing outright,” said Diane. Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. 

“That’s why a diverse group representing cities and ports, as well as fishing families, including fishermen and seafood processors, has come together to help block this extremist lawsuit,” Pleschner-Steele continued. “In this tough economy, we can’t afford to destroy this historic fishing industry and the local economies in which it operates, especially when the action is not based on the best available science.”

Oceana’s lawsuit claims that sardines and other so-called forage species are being massively overfished. Ironically, California’s coastal pelagic fisheries have one of the lowest harvest rates in the world.  Further, fishery management in California and, the California Current Ecosystem is recognized as one of only a few areas worldwide deemed ‘sustainable’ by internationally recognized scientists, according to a 2009 Science magazine article, Rebuilding Global Fisheries, and other recent studies.

“Oceana’s lawsuit is baseless; California already has the most precautionary fishery management system in the world. If successful, this lawsuit would restrict our state’s fishermen unnecessarily, and unfairly, because virtually all the forage species listed are actively managed or monitored by the federal government as well as the state,” said Steve Scheiblauer, Monterey’s harbormaster.

The state and federal government established guidelines more than a decade ago for coastal pelagic species harvested in California and on the west coast, maintaining at least 75 percent of the fish in the ocean, far below the science standard set for other fisheries.

The sardine protection rate is even higher at close to 90 percent. In addition, California implemented a network of marine reserves in state waters through the Marine Life Protection Act.  Many reserves were established explicitly to protect forage for other marine life, including important bird rookery and haul out areas around Año Nuevo and the Farallon Islands, as well as the Channel Islands in Southern California. In addition, more than 30 percent of traditional squid harvest grounds are now closed in reserve.

“Oceana failed to get a bill passed in California’s state legislature last year, so now they are trying the federal courts to get their agenda implemented,” said Scheiblauer. “Legislators on both sides of the political aisle saw through the ill-crafted bill, AB 1299, and it died because legislators knew it would have unnecessarily decimated local coastal economies like Monterey.”

About California Wetfish Producers Association

The California Wetfish Producers Association strives for sustainable fishery resources, access, education and scientific research. Find more info at

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Feb 14 2012

Feds Approve Ban on Cruise Ship Sewage Discharge

“This is a great day for the California coast, which is far too precious a resource to be used as a dumping ground,” said Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto). “This ‘No Discharge Zone’ – the largest in the nation – protects our coastal economy, our environment and our public health.”

Local beach off Crissy Field in San Francisco, CA. Courtesy of the U.S. EPA.

Written by Dan Bacher | Staff Writer

The federal government on February 9 approved a landmark California proposal banning the discharge of more than 22 million gallons of treated vessel sewage to shorelines and shallow marine waters in California every year, drawing praise from environmental and shipping industry groups alike.

U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld signed a rule that will finalize EPA’s decision and approve a state proposal to ban all sewage discharges from large cruise ships and most other large ocean-going ships to state marine waters along California’s 1,624 mile coast from Mexico to Oregon and surrounding major islands.

The action established a new federal regulation banning even treated sewage from being discharged in California’s marine waters.

“This is an important step to protect California’s coastline,” said Governor Jerry Brown. “I want to commend the shipping industry, environmental groups and U.S. EPA for working with California to craft a common sense approach to keeping our coastal waters clean.”

“By approving California’s ‘No Discharge Zone,’ EPA will prohibit more than 20 million gallons of vessel sewage from entering the state’s coastal waters,” said Jared Blumenfeld. “Not only will this rule help protect important marine species, it also benefits the fishing industry, marine habitats and the millions of residents and tourists who visit California beaches each year.”

This action strengthens protection of California’s coastal waters from the adverse effects of sewage discharges from a growing number of large vessels, according to an announcement from the the U.S. EPA.

Read the rest of the story on Alternet.


Feb 4 2012

“King Tides” Illustrate Vulnerability of California Shoreline

King Tides in Pismo Beach, CA- Credit: Cassidy Teufel (9/24/11)

On Monday, some of the year’s highest tides will hit California shorelines, providing a glimpse of what the state can expect as sea levels rise in the coming years. These “king tides” – as the highest winter tides are called – will be captured by citizen imagery through the California King Tides Initiative.

The California Ocean Protection Council estimates more than one foot of sea level rise by 2050 and four to five feet by 2100 along the California coast. The initiative is getting the public involved by asking residents to photograph high tides in their neighborhood, highlighting the way homes, harbors, and other infrastructure, as well as beaches, wetlands, and public access to the coast may be affected by sea level rise in the future.

The final winter king tides well occur from Monday, February 6 through February 8. These February king tides mark the third of three winter king tides events, following earlier king tide events on January 20-22, 2012 and December 23-24, 2011.

Visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website for tide charts with specific information about the timing and location of tide levels.


Where to view and photograph King Tides:

North Coast/Humboldt – Eureka: Woodley Island; Indian Island; Del Norte St. Pier; Halvorsen Park/The Adorni Center. Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. King Salmon Beach. New Navy Base Road in Manila/Samoa.

San Francisco Area Outer Coast: Ocean Beach; Stinson Beach; Pacifica: Beach Blvd. Sea Wall near the municipal pier; Laguna Salada. City of Capitola. City of Santa Cruz.

Inner SF Bay: Proposed Treasure Island development site. South Bay: Redwood Creek and proposed Redwood City dev. site, Dumbarton Bridge. Marin: Corte Madera, Richardson Bay, Gallinas Creek (North of China Camp).

Santa Barbara Area: Isla Vista beaches, Goleta Beach County Park, Leadbetter Beach, Butterfly Beach, Miramar Beach, Padaro Lane, Carpinteria Salt Marsh, Hobson State Beach, Faria, and Emma Wood State Beach.

Santa Monica: Broad Beach, Malibu shoreline homes, Marina del Rey, Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles.

Orange County: Seal Beach/Sunset Beach Oceanfront (City of Seal Beach), Huntington Harbor (Huntington Beach), Newport Beach islands and peninsula (Newport Beach).

San Diego: San Diego Bay, Oceanside Beach, San Elijo Lagoon, Del Mar Dog Beach/San Dieguito Lagoon Entrance, Torrey Pines (where Penasquitos enters the ocean), La Jolla Shores, and Mission Beach.