Archive for April, 2016

Apr 25 2016

D.B. Pleschner: Sardines not collapsing, may be in recovery

On April 10, the Pacific Fishery Management Council closed the West Coast sardine fishery for a second straight year. The council followed its ultra-conservative harvest control policy and relied on a stock assessment that does not account for recent sardine recruitment.

But in fact, there are multiple lines of evidence that young sardines are now abundant in the ocean.

In addition to field surveys, fishermen in both California and the Pacific Northwest have been observing sardines — both small and large — since the summer of 2015. And California fishermen also provided samples of the small fish to federal and state fishery managers. During the council meeting, the industry advisory subpanel — comprised of fishermen and processors — voiced concern with the inability of acoustic surveys — on which stock assessments are largely based — to estimate accurately the number of fish in the sea. These surveys routinely miss the mass of sardines in the nearshore, where the bulk of the fishery occurs in California, and in the upper water column in the Pacific Northwest, where Oregon and Washington fishermen catch sardines. The recruitment we’re seeing now seems much like the recruitment event following the 2003 El Niño. The years 1999-2002 were characterized by strong La Niña conditions, similar to the years 2010-2013. And what happened after the early 2000s? By 2007 the West Coast sardine population hit its highest peak in recent memory.

So by all appearances the sardine population is likely on the upswing — not still tanking as many environmentalists and media reports are claiming.

But despite this evidence of recovery, Oceana’s Geoff Shester continues to argue for even stricter management measures. He accuses the fishery of overfishing sardines, and alleges that overfishing is the primary cause of recent sea lion and seabird mortality. Responding to similar claims that Oceana made in a recent Seattle Times article, internationally acclaimed fishery scientist from the University of Washington Dr. Ray Hilborn said, “Dr. Shester’s comments are some of the most dishonest commentary I have seen in the fisheries world … he simply continues to ignore science and pursue his own agenda.”

Despite what Oceana and other environmental groups claim, the reality is that sardine harvest control rule is very precautionary — perhaps the best example of ecosystem-based management in the world. Sardine harvest policy allocates more than 75 percent of the biomass for forage needs, as it has since the fishery returned in the 1980s.

The lack of flexibility in management policies to adapt to the reality observed in the ocean, especially during assessment “update” years, is a recipe for disaster — and the impact is already being felt by California’s historic wetfish industry. This industry normally produces 80 percent or more of the volume of seafood landed commercially statewide, representing as much as 40 percent of total dockside value. Closure has serious repercussions for California’s fishing economy.

As the subpanel noted to the council, “Adaptive management should work both ways. The council’s current policies make it easy to reduce fishing opportunity, but not to increase it. There is no parallel policy allowing for new data to be incorporated into assessments in update years — or for a fishery to be reopened — until the next full assessment. The current policy has the real socio-economic effect of curtailing fisheries, and by extension harms the industry and dependent coastal communities. Requiring fishermen and industry to tie up the boats and close the processors’ doors for two or three years, or longer, does not achieve Optimum Yield.”

Thankfully, the council did provide a potential lifeline for fisheries to continue by approving a small allowance for sardines caught incidentally in other fisheries. That’s because sardines tend to school with mackerel, anchovy and squid, and fishermen need a reasonable number of sardine caught incidentally to continue to pursue their livelihoods.

The sardine fishery will undergo full assessment in 2017 when all evidence and model assumptions will be reviewed and potentially changed. Hopefully the council will also adopt more real-time management policies in its quest to achieve the best available science. It’s in the best interest of both fish and fishermen.


Read the original post:

Apr 25 2016

University of Washington Study: Pacific “Blob” Likely to Return in Five Years Time

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

Copyright © 2016

Seafood News

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Peninsula Daily News] By Chris McDaniel – April 22, 2016

The so-called “warm blob” that emerged in 2013 and 2014 off the Pacific Northwest and just recently dissipated is a recurring phenomenon — known as a marine heat wave — expected to return in five-year intervals, according to a recently released University of Washington study.

Unusually warm oceans can have widespread effects on marine ecosystems, scientists say.

Warm patches off the Pacific Northwest from 2013 to 2015, and a couple of years earlier in the Atlantic Ocean, affected everything from sea lions to fish migrations to coastal weather.

The study — published in March in the journal Geophysical Research Letters — reviews the history of such features across the Northern Hemisphere.

Happen at sea surface 

“We can think of marine heat waves as the analog to atmospheric heat waves, except they happen at the sea surface and affect marine ecosystems,” said the study’s lead author Hillary Scannell, a doctoral student in oceanography.

“There are a lot of similarities.”

Co-authors of the study are Andrew Pershing and Katherine Mills at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Michael Alexander at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Andrew Thomas at the University of Maine. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Land-based heat waves, Scannell said, are becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change.

Scannell and her collaborators’ work suggests this also might be happening in the north Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Marine heat waves 

Their study found that marine heat waves have recurred regularly in the past but have become more common since the 1970s, as global warming has become more pronounced.

The new paper looks at the frequency of marine heat waves in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific since 1950.

Scannell did the work as a student earning a master’s degree at the University of Maine, where she was inspired by the 2012 record-breaking warm waters off New England.

“After that big warming event of 2012 we keyed into it and wanted to know how unusual it was,” Scannell said.

Warm blob 

The study also analyzes the “warm blob” that emerged in 2013 and 2014 off the Pacific Northwest.

The authors analyzed 65 years of ocean surface temperature observations, from 1950 to 2014, and also looked at how these two recent events stack up.

In general, the results show that the larger, more intense and longer-lasting a marine heat wave is, the less frequently it will occur.

The study also shows that the two recent events were similar to others seen in the historical record, but got pushed into new territory by the overall warming of the surface oceans.

An event like the northwest Atlantic Ocean marine heat wave, in which an area about the size of the U.S. stayed 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for three months, is likely to naturally occur about every five years in the North Atlantic and northwestern Pacific oceans, and more frequently in the northeast Pacific.

The blob in the northeast Pacific covered an even larger area, with surface temperatures 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for 17 months, and is expected from the record to naturally happen about once every five years off the West Coast.

El Niño years 

In the northeast Pacific, the record shows that marine heat waves are more likely during an El Niño year and when the Pacific Decadal Oscillation brings warmer temperatures off the west coast of North America.

The blob likely got an extra kick from a possible transition to the favorable phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, as well as from the overall warming of the ocean.

“The blob was an unfortunate but excellent example of these events,” Scannell said.

“As we go into the uncharted waters of a warming climate, we may expect a greater frequency of these marine heat waves.”

Scannell also is a co-author of an earlier study published in February in which the authors define the term “marine heat wave” and specify the duration, temperature change and spatial extent that would meet their criteria. That study was led by researchers in Australia, who were curious about a warm event from 2010 to 2011 in the Indian Ocean.

Streamlined definition 

“We’re working towards a more streamlined definition so we can more easily compare these events when they occur in the future,” Scannell said.

Better understanding of marine heat waves could help prepare ocean ecosystems and maritime industries, she said.

At the University of Washington, Scannell currently works with Michael McPhaden, an affiliate professor of oceanography and scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration looking at air-sea interactions along the equator and other factors that might create marine heat waves.

Copyright © 2016   |  Subscribe to

Apr 25 2016

Sardine numbers remain low, 2016 fishing remains closed

Stock assessment finds sardine biomass below cut-off level for directed fishing this year

Last weekend scientists and managers at the Pacific Fishery Management Council weighed the results of a new stock assessment of sardine populations off the West Coast. This new assessment, which was approved and adopted as best available science for management of sardine in the 2016-2017 fishing year, shows that sardine numbers remain low, and remain below the cut-off level where directed fishing for the species could again be allowed.


Based on this information, and the management framework in place for this stock, the Council voted to keep fishing for sardine closed for the second year in a row. As occurred last year, the Council voted to allow for small amounts of sardine taken (up to a total of 8,000 metric tons) as live bait harvest, Tribal harvest, incidental catch in other fisheries (such as mackerel and anchovy), and for scientific research studies.

Directed commercial fishing for Pacific sardine is not allowed because the assessment estimated the spawning biomass to be approximately 106,000 metric tons. This is below the cut-off level of 150,000 metric tons, the lowest level at which directed fishing is allowed. This cut-off threshold, included in the Coastal Pelagic Species fishery management plan, is set three times greater than the level at which sardines are considered overfished. This approach limits fishing as the stock declines to help maintain a stable core population of sardines that can jump-start a new cycle of population growth.

The stock biomass is the size of the adult sardine population of reproductive age (a year old and older) as measured by offshore surveys conducted by NOAA Fisheries in the last year. The estimate does not include very young fish that are not yet part of the spawning population.

There are some indications of stronger sardine reproduction in the last year that could eventually lead to improvements in West Coast sardine numbers, scientists said. For example, surveys in 2015 counted increased numbers of small sardines off central California and similarly found young sardines along the Oregon-California Coast that would not be included in overall stock biomass estimates, and as such, would not be represented in the stock assessment. That indicates that sardines spawned along the West Coast last year and, if the young fish survive, they could add to the adult population in coming years.

Although sardines usually spawn off central California in the spring, last year they apparently spawned farther north, off Oregon. That suggests that sardine spawning may have shifted, perhaps in response to unusual ocean conditions such as “the blob,” an expanse of warm water that dominated West Coast waters through much of 2014 and 2015, and the El Nino climate pattern now affecting the region.

“The normal timing and distribution of sardine spawning has shifted dramatically as a result of warm water conditions the last three years and we did not catch them in their usual spawning areas at their regular time,” said Dale Sweetnam, deputy director of the Fisheries Resources Division at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center, which leads sardine surveys and stock assessments on the West Coast.

Sardines are known for their wide-ranging “boom-and-bust” population cycles around the world. They have been in decline off the West Coast since a series of cool years from 2010 to 2014 reduced the survival of eggs and very young fish so that few survived to join the adult spawning population. The question now is whether recent warmer conditions may boost the survival of the large numbers of young fish so that more survive long enough to join the adult population.

Two annual stock assessment surveys, one currently underway this spring and another one planned for this summer will help to answer that question.

“We have had a few years of very unusual conditions on the West Coast, and we’re still learning what that means for sardines and many other species,” Sweetnam said. “Our best sources of information are the surveys that tell where the fish are and how well they’re surviving. Preliminary results this spring suggest that we did have good recruitment last year; however, the magnitude and extent of that recruitment will have to wait until we have completed the surveys.”

Read the original post:

Apr 25 2016

Status of Stocks 2015: U.S. Fisheries Continue to Rebuild


April 20, 2016

Good afternoon,

NOAA Fisheries is pleased to announce the release of the 2015 Status of U.S. Fisheries report to Congress. This annual report identifies stocks on the overfishing andoverfishedlists.  In 2015, these lists remained near all-time lows and stocks continued to rebuild.

Underscoring the strength of the U.S. science-based management framework to monitor and respond to changes in status, in 2015, eight stocks came off theoverfishing list while ten others were added. Two stocks are no longer listed as overfished, while a stock with a previously unknown status was added. And recent assessments show two stocks have rebuilt, bringing the national total of rebuilt stocks to 39 since 2000.

In this 40th anniversary year of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, we want to recognize that the dynamic, science-based management process is proving to be successful at ending chronic overfishing, rebuilding our fisheries and helping realize significant benefits to the U.S. economy.


As we move forward toward the next 40 years, we will continue to adapt our science and management process to reflect changing ocean conditions and the role of complex ecosystems and climate impacts on U.S. fisheries.


We look forward to working with you to further these efforts and identify opportunities to strengthen the long-term biological and economic sustainability of our nation’s fisheries.

Thank you,

Laurel Bryant
Chief, External Affairs
NOAA Fisheries Communications
Apr 25 2016

Ocean souring on climate change


“This upwelling is both a blessing and a curse,” Chan said. “The upwelling injects nutrients that make our ocean so productive. That’s why Steinbeck wrote ‘Cannery Row.’ We live in a very special ocean. But the curse is that this upwelling creates low oxygen and low pH. So we’re much closer to any tipping points that could push us past a threshold.”

Although the causes and effects of ocean acidification and low oxygen are global, the panel found hopeful news about the potential to deal with it locally.

Seagrass beds and kelp forests are more productive than tropical forests, capturing more carbon than other systems on the planet. By restoring marine vegetation, scientists hope to raise pH and oxygen levels in key areas.

Curbing marine pollution can also improve ocean chemistry, scientists said. Runoff from farms and lawns, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, feed algal blooms that dump carbon and deplete oxygen from local waters. Cutting back on those pollutants can “put off a potential evil hour when carbon dioxide are so high” that they cause irreparable damage to marine life, Dickson said.

Efforts to battle ocean acidification and low oxygen on the West Coast will be test cases for dealing with the problem elsewhere, scientists said

“The West Coast will be a harbinger for the types of ocean acidification impacts that will be widely felt across coastal North America in the coming decades,” the report states.

Despite the gloomy news, Chan said he’s hopeful that a solution is at hand, noting that bills pending in the California Legislature — Assembly Bill 2139 and Senate Bill 1363 — would study ocean acidity and promote eelgrass restoration.

“I’m leaving with an optimistic note, which I tend not to as a scientist, but I think the people who make decisions get it, and are ready to do something,” he said.

Read the original post:

Apr 18 2016

Recipe: Grilled Sardines, Basque Port Style


There is nothing better than simply grilled sardines in season. They are a social food—you don’t eat one, you have an afternoon’s worth—and they arrive crusted in a bloom of evaporated seawater.

Total Time: 20 minutes Serves: 4

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 10 cups room-temperature water
  • 8 fresh Mediterranean, Greek or American sardines, rinsed, scaled, and optionally gutted
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Japanese or Maldon smoked sea salt, for finishing (optional)
  • Grilled bread, for serving

1. Make a brine: Combine kosher salt and water in a large bowl or other vessel and stir to dissolve. Add sardines and let stand 15 minutes. Remove fish from brine, discard brine and pat fish on both sides with paper towels until thoroughly dry. Rub sardines with oil on both sides.

2. Lightly oil an 8-inch wire-mesh strainer and place it directly on top of a burner on a gas stove. Turn burner on and allow screen to heat about 15 seconds. Place 4 oiled sardines on screen and then immediately lift screen 1-2 inches above flame to prevent burning sardines excessively. Return screen to burner and cook fish 1 minute on first side. Then, using tongs, carefully flip sardines and cook on the second side 30 seconds more. Expect some flames and crackling from the oily sardine juices that fall on the fire, and when flare-ups occur, pull screen away until flames die down, then move fish back to heat source. When fish are ready, transfer to a platter. Repeat until they are all cooked.

3. Sprinkle sardines with smoked salt and serve immediately with grilled bread for soaking up juices.

Originally posted in The Wall Street Journal

Apr 18 2016

Sardine stories

Ray Hilborn is a professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington and a founding partner of Find him on twitter @hilbornr.

At the end of February, Dr. Geoff Shester, California campaign director for the nonprofit advocacy group Oceana, criticized the Pacific Fishery Management Council for the persistence of low numbers of California sardines. The lack of a population recovery may cause the commercial moratorium to last until 2017.

The author explained this sardine population decline as being 93 percent less than it was in 2007. Shester does not believe this is because of environmental causes like climate change, El Niño or natural fluctuations in forage fish species, however. Instead he blames the management body.

“They warned of a population collapse, and the fishery management body basically turned a blind eye and continued moving forward with business as usual.”

Shester also cited recent sea lion deaths, specifically 3,000 that washed ashore in California in 2015.

“When fishing pressure occurs during a decline, which is exactly what happened here,” says Shester, “it puts the stock at such dramatically low levels it impedes any recovery potentially for decades.” Shester’s comments are some of the most dishonest commentary I have seen in the fisheries world.

He knows the NOAA scientists and Professor Tim Essington, in work funded by the Pew Foundation, have stated clearly that the decline in sardine abundance is due to natural causes. He also knows that sea lions are not dependent upon sardines; the die-off of sea lions is caused by the oceanographic conditions — not the result of fishing. In fact, reproductive failures of sea lions have occurred repeatedly in the past at times of high sardine abundance.

If he has read Essington’s paper (“Fishing amplifies forage fish population collapses”) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he would also know that there is no relationship between fishing and the duration of periods of low abundance of sardines and other forage fish.

The harvest rule for sardines is highly precautionary, even when sardines are at high abundance, the harvest rate is low. Indeed the harvest control rule for sardines matches very well the recommended harvest rule for forage fish that emerged from the Lenfest report — that is a low target harvest rate at high abundance with the fishery closed when the stock reaches low abundance.

Members of the Science and Statistical Committee of the Pacific Fishery Management Council have explained all this to Shester before. He simply continues to ignore science and pursue his own agenda.

Download the PDF of this article:

Apr 15 2016

NOAA issues La Niña watch as tropical Pacific temperatures tank

La Niña is El Niño’s cooler counterpart. It seems likely to arrive this fall. (NOAA)

El Niño is quickly fading. Sea surface temperatures are coming down in the tropical Pacific, and winds in the region have weakened. History tells us, and forecast models predict, that La Niña conditions will be quick on its heels.

Seeing the writing on the wall, NOAA issued a La Niña watch on Thursday. “Nearly all models predict further weakening of El Niño, with a transition to ENSO-neutral likely during late spring or early summer 2016,” NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center wrote. “Nearly all models predict further weakening of El Niño, with a transition to ENSO-neutral likely during late spring or early summer 2016. Then, the chance of La Niña increases during the late summer or early fall.”

La Niña is El Niño’s cooler counterpart in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Whereas El Niño exhibits abnormally warm ocean temperatures and a strong atmospheric circulation across the equator, La Niña represents abnormally cold water. The cooler sea surface temperature pattern enhances the circulation in the tropics, called the Walker circulation.

The Walker circulation tends to dominate the weather across the equatorial Pacific. Air flows west toward Indonesia, where water is typically the warmest, and rises. This creates lots of thunderstorms and rain. During El Niño, this circulation is disrupted. The warmest water sloshes to the eastern side of the Pacific near South America. Air ends up rising closer to South America, and it sinks over Indonesia.

Air flow patterns during El Nino and La Nina. (

La Niña is the exact opposite. It sends the circulation into overdrive.

“During La Niña events … when waters in the western Pacific are even warmer than normal and waters in the eastern Pacific are even colder, it is like someone turned the normal Walker Circulation ‘up to 11,’” writes’s Tom Di Liberto. “Warm, moist air rises even more over the Maritime Continent and South America leading to above-average rainfall. In the eastern Pacific, where colder than average waters exist, an enhanced downward branch of the Walker Circulation helps to further reduce the region’s already small rainfall totals.”

(Columbia University/IRI)

(Columbia University/IRI)

In its forecast, Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society has increased the likelihood of La Niña to 65 percent by early fall, and a 70 percent chance by next winter. This is up from 50 percent last month.

NOAA will “declare” a La Niña when temperatures across the eastern side of the Pacific have cooled to a temperature departure of 0.5 degrees Celsius below normal, and when the Walker circulation strengthens like we would expect it to during a true La Niña.

Read the original post:

Apr 12 2016

Professor Ray Hilborn wins 2016 International Fisheries Science Prize

April 11, 2016 — SAVING SEAFOOD — Professor Ray Hilborn, of the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, was recognized by the World Council of Fisheries Societies for his contributions to fishery management science.

“Professor Hilborn has had an extremely impressive career of highly diversified research and publication in support of global fisheries science and conservation. Throughout his 40-year career, Ray has been a model of dynamic and innovative science, and in the application of this work to the ever-changing problems of fisheries management and conservation in both marine and freshwater ecosystems. Professor Hilborn’s Prize will be awarded at the World Fisheries Congress in Busan, South Korea in late May.”

In recent years, Professor Hilborn has been one of the organizers of the Ram legacy Database at the University of Washington, which is the most complete global database on fish stocks, biomass surveys and catch history ever assembled.  The resulting analysis and modeling from this database have not only united many fisheries scientists around the world who had been portrayed by the media as opposing each other in terms of fisheries conservation issues, but the database has also served to highlight a road map for fisheries conservation efforts over the next twenty years.

As a result of these efforts, Hilborn has been instrumental in changing the perception that fish stocks were being fished to extinction and instead has shown that when fisheries management principles are properly applied, strong stock recoveries take place.

Frustrated by the public misperception about the actual state of major fisheries, Hilborn and other colleagues have created cfood a website scientists use to communicate with journalists and the general public about fisheries science issues.  The database, and website, have been particularly helpful in countering organizations who use distorted or outdated fisheries science to alarm regulators and the public.


This story originally appeared on, a subscription site. It is reprinted with permission.

Apr 6 2016

Federal regulators: Don’t even think about fishing for these forage species

Fishing boats line the dock along Timms Way in San Pedro. West Coast fishery managers banned the take of any forage fish (pelagic squid, herring), in a decision ratified by federal officials with a final rule issued this week, in state waters. The species aren't fished currently, and this is a move to protect them, in the event their numbers increase and become enough to sustain a productive fishery. (Chuck Bennett / Staff Photographer)

Fishing boats line the dock along Timms Way in San Pedro. West Coast fishery managers banned the take of any forage fish (pelagic squid, herring), in a decision ratified by federal officials with a final rule issued this week, in state waters. The species aren’t fished currently, and this is a move to protect them, in the event their numbers increase and become enough to sustain a productive fishery. (Chuck Bennett / Staff Photographer)

Fishing boats line the dock along Timms Way in San Pedro. West Coast fishery managers banned the take of any forage fish (pelagic squid, herring), in a decision ratified by federal officials with a final rule issued this week, in state waters. (Chuck Bennett / Staff Photographer)
Fishing boats line the dock along Timms Way in San Pedro. West Coast fishery managers banned the take of any forage fish (pelagic squid, herring), in a decision ratified by federal officials with a final rule issued this week, in state waters. (Chuck Bennett / Staff Photographer)


No one’s fishing in large numbers for lanternfish, bristlemouth, pelagic squid or a handful of other forage-fish species targeted for protection in California by federal regulators this week.

And no one will be fishing for them anytime soon, under the new rule, which has been the subject of debate among fishers and environmentalists for more than five years. It aims to proactively protect the Pacific Ocean ecosystem by banning commercial fishing of round and thread herring, Pacific saury and sand lance, and certain smelts across the West Coast that are preferred meals of predators commonly fished here.

“The fishery management council wasn’t interested in being surprised by a potential new fishery,” said Yvonne deReynier, a NOAA spokeswoman. “Because of this rule, now people can’t just decide they want to go fishing without checking in and getting permission from fishery management. This is a big-picture concern of our council. The council wants to ensure there are going to be enough prey for mid- and higher-level trophic species that feed on these.”

Before the rule was finalized Monday, new forage-fish commercial fisheries could start relatively easily. Now they can’t begin without extensive study, regulation and permission by the Pacific Fishery Management Council to ensure they’re not overfished or otherwise harmed.

Environmentalists cheered the decision, saying it’s a progressive shift in policy from more conservative, past actions of the Pacific Fishery Management Council and NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

“The way we’ve traditionally managed fisheries in U.S. waters is really a management-by-crisis. This turns that on its head,” said Paul Shively, a spokesman for The Pew Charitable Trusts, an organization that has advocated for the rule since 2010. “It’s really a forward-thinking rule they put in place. It will be interesting and exciting to see how this is used as a model for other fisheries in the nation.”

For California anglers, however, the decision makes little sense.

“Our concern is that this is very shortsighted,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. “It’s basically a placeholder to stop a fishery before it starts. For the most part, there shouldn’t be any immediate impact to any fishery because it allows for incidental takes when fishers are looking for something else but come up with these species.”

Pleschner-Steele said constantly shifting ocean conditions require quick adaptation by fishers to survive and provide the market with fresh, sustainable fish. This measure could cause unnecessary delays and costs to fishers who are already struggling with what they perceive as overly restrictive federal and state rules.

“In light of climate change and ocean acidification, the indications are that it’s going to be pushing temperate fish north. So the fish that now reside in Mexico and South America could very well become abundant here,” Pleschner-Steele said. “We asked that this policy be reviewed in the next couple of years to see if there are impacts, and then to keep reviewing it because the ocean’s always changing.”

Sardines and anchovies, which also are forage fish, aren’t included in this rule because there are existing management plans for them. While the rule applies only to federal waters at least 3 miles out from the coast, state fishery regulators are likely to follow suit, officials said.

This decision is the second of its kind on the West Coast. In 2009, commercial fishing for krill — a red shrimp-like crustacean favored by many ocean species — was banned even though krill fishers didn’t exist. Both issues were brought to the forefront by environmental organizations worried about overfishing, and maintaining a supply of prey species for ocean predators, sea birds and marine mammals.

“We started with krill in 2009, and then moved to larger species,” deReynier said. “The fishery management council began working on this in 2013, the first time they looked at fisheries across the entire ecosystem, but environmental groups were calling for it for years before that.”

Read the original post: