Nov 10 2015

THE ANCHOVY “COLLAPSE”: ANOTHER MANUFACTURED CRISIS

Recent sensational media accounts trumpet the collapse of the central anchovy population. Environmental extremists are now calling for emergency closure of the anchovy fishery that takes place primarily in Monterey Bay. This hysteria is based on a study, funded by these same environmentalists, that claims the population has collapsed in southern California, has declined by 99 percent and now is at extremely low levels, with virtually all the fish concentrated nearshore in Monterey Bay.

The scientific paper detailing study findings – still in peer review – is now being criticized for failing to consider the last 5 years of data, which document a big increase in recruitment for anchovy and sardine both in southern California and coast-wide. But that doesn’t stop the extremists from accusing fishermen of, in essence, taking “the last fish.”

We are responding to the outcry in the media with facts and images to illustrate the fallacy of extremist claims of anchovy “collapse.”

Fishermen are the vanguard of ocean observations. Here’s their side of the story:

Corbin Hanson fishes for coastal pelagic species (CPS), mainly in southern CA:

I saw a large volume of anchovy show up on the southern CA coast beginning around 2011. I’ve seen lots of pinhead [small] anchovy in the Santa Barbara channel, and in 2014 Catalina Island was loaded with small anchovy. The largest volume of anchovy I’ve ever seen was running up coast from Point Conception to Monterey this summer – miles of anchovies from 30 fathoms depth to the beach. We couldn’t escape them; it was hard to see the bottom on the fathometer at times. We drove through hundreds of thousands of tons in one night this summer. Other fishermen saw the same thing I did – whales, birds, seals all gorging on anchovy.”

Richie Ashley also fishes for both live bait anchovy and other CPS in S.CA

There has been major tonnage of anchovy in the Los Angeles / Long Beach harbor for more than a year. Almost all of it has been very small “pinhead” size. Another volume of slightly larger anchovy were in front of Newport Beach for several months. In June, Catalina was loaded with small pinhead anchovies – many thousands of tons. At the same time, we saw anchovy in the Santa Barbara channel in daytime as well, a lot of it!

Whoever said there are no anchovies in southern CA has no clue!”

Tom Noto has fished for 30 years, and fishes for anchovy in Monterey.

Fishermen catch anchovy on the edge of Monterey Canyon. These fish like to dive deep. We see schools of anchovy that color our fathometers red from bottom to near top. Our sonars mark schools that are hundreds of feet thick, but our nets just skim the surface of these schools. Fishermen up and down the coast are seeing the same thing: anchovies are everywhere, but we only fish them in Monterey Bay.

The study is wrong and I feel our fishery is being assassinated without cause.”

Neil Guglielmo has been fishing for 57 years up and down the West Coast, and is one of about eight fishermen who fish anchovy in Monterey.

I’m on the water nearly every day and I’ve seen a big surge in the anchovy population in recent years. Anchovies now stretch from the “pinheads” fishermen see in Southern California all the way up the coast past Half Moon Bay, where a large group of whales was recently spotted feeding on anchovies.

Our fishery simply skims the surface of anchovy schools that often run hundreds of feet deep. The allowed anchovy harvest is limited at 25,000 tons, leaving 75 percent of the biomass in the ocean as forage. Bottom line: there are plenty of anchovies in the sea.

To illustrate, Neil photographed his sonar during one night fishing anchovy in Monterey:

AnchovyonsonarThe sonar shows a school of anchovy in front of the boat – one school representing hundreds of tons of fish. Schools this dense are plentiful in Monterey Bay and along the coast from Pt. Conception to Monterey and beyond.

 

AnchovyonfathoThe fathometer on Neil Guglielmo’s fishing vessel Trionfo marked dense schools of anchovy on the bottom of the ocean across the entire mouth of San Francisco Bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge — thousands and thousands of tons of anchovy.

 

Anchovyfishing-MontereyThe Trionfo fishes for anchovy in Monterey Bay at night when the fish are near the surface. The boat is surrounded by birds, sea lions and other marine life, all eager to help themselves to the catch.

 


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