Mar 6 2014

Viewpoints: The state of sardine populations

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Sardines have been a hot news topic in recent weeks. Environmental groups and others have trumpeted that the sardine population is collapsing like it did in the mid-1940s.

The environmental group Oceana has been arguing this point loudly in order to shut down the sardine fishery. That’s why it filed suit in federal court, in a case now under appeal, challenging the current sardine management.

So what is the truth about the state of sardines? It’s much more complicated than environmentalists would lead you to believe.

In fact, it’s inaccurate and disingenuous to compare today’s fishery management with the historic sardine fishery collapse that devastated Monterey’s Cannery Row.

In the 1940s and ’50s, the fishery harvest averaged 43 percent or more of the standing sardine stock. Plus, there was little regulatory oversight and no limit on the annual catch.

Today, the allowed annual U.S. catch totals roughly 5 percent and coastal sardine exploitation averages less than 15 percent of the northern stock.

Read the full story here.

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