Archive for May, 2016

May 3 2016



WASHINGTON (Saving Seafood) – May 2, 2016 – Dr. Ray Hilborn, a marine biologist and fisheries scientist at the University of Washington, has launched a new initiative aimed at addressing key issues surrounding forage fish science and the impacts of forage fishing on predator species. Dr. Hilborn’s Forage Fish Project is one of several scientific efforts occurring in the next few months to expand the existing body of scientific research on forage fish.

Comprised of 14 renowned fisheries scientists from around the globe, the Forage Fish Project held its inaugural conference last month in Hobart, Australia, where it identified shortcomings in the existing forage fish research. Specifically, it found several issues with work produced by the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force, whose April 2012 report, “Little Fish, Big Impact,” concluded forage fish are vulnerable to overfishing, among other findings.

The Forage Fish Project, which includes two members of the Lenfest Task Force, began work to address these flaws, with the goal of producing an accompanying study later this year.

In Hobart, Project members found that most of the models used in previous forage fish studies, like the Lenfest Task Force report, left out factors such as the natural variability of forage fish stocks, and the extent of size overlap between fisheries and predators. The group also found multiple indications that the Lenfest study greatly overstated the negative impact of forage fishing on predator species.

“Most [food web] models were not built with the explicit intention of evaluating forage fish fisheries, so unsurprisingly many models did not include features of forage fish population biology or food web structure that are relevant for evaluating all fishery impacts,” according to minutes from the Hobart meeting.

Two upcoming fishery management workshops will also evaluate forage species on the East and West Coasts of the U.S., the first organized by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the Pacific Fishery Management Council. The workshop, which will be held in La Jolla, Calif., from May 2-5, will focus on how to improve stock assessment methods for northern anchovy and other coastal pelagic species. Attendees will evaluate model-based assessment approaches based on routinely assessed pelagic species from around the world, consider non-assessment approaches to estimate fish stocks, and develop recommendations for how the SWFSC should evaluate coastal pelagic fish stocks in the future.

A similar forage fish workshop will be held May 16-17 in Portland, Maine. This workshop will focus on Atlantic herring, with the goal of establishing a rule to specify its acceptable biological catch (ABC), the recommended catch level for any given fish species. An effective ABC rule will consider the role of Atlantic herring in the ecosystem, stabilize the fishery at a level that will achieve optimum yield, and address localized depletion in inshore waters.

Ultimately, these various forage fish workshops and projects are striving to use the best available science to update previous research and determine sound management practices for forage species.

Read the full minutes from the Forage Fish Project conference in Hobart, Australia

Learn more about the upcoming coastal pelagic species workshop in La Jolla, Calif.

Learn more about the upcoming Atlantic herring workshop in Portland, Maine

Read the original post:

May 3 2016

One North Coast “Hot Crab” Pushes California’s Fishery Officials to Reconsider Opening Protocols

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

Copyright © 2016

Seafood News

SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – April 29, 2016

If anyone has a right to be crabby about the Dungeness crab season in California, it’s the fishermen and processors in Northern California.

Persistent levels of domoic acid in the crab in California delayed the Dungeness and rock crab along the whole coast and have allowed limited, incremental openings of sport and commercial fisheries in certain areas. The industry anxiously awaited word on the last hold-out area, at Trinidad, in Humboldt County, Thursday, but the April 28 test returned one “hot” crab that had levels exceeding 30 ppm.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Pete Kalvass said Thursday the department was going to have internal discussions and solicit feedback from the industry about what, if anything, could be done to open the fishery on the North Coast.

Recreational fisheries are open from Humboldt Bay entrance to the California/Mexico border. Commercial Dungeness fisheries are open from the Mendocino/Sonoma county line south. That leaves three counties, Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte, that remain closed to commercial crabbing.

Coincidentally, Sen. Mike McGuire, D-North Coast and chairman of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, held a hearing the same day to get an update on the crab disaster declaration and domic acid ocean conditions.

Mike Lucas, president of North Coast Fishers Inc., was one of the panelists.

“We saw markets disappear,” he said, noting that more localized issues, like crab feeds, also disappeared or were reduced. These are the biggest fundraisers of the year for some organizations, he said. “There have been boats lost, families split, homes lost and communities have suffered,” he said in his written comments.

Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations Executive Director Tim Sloane mentioned similar circumstances.

“Two board members tell me they’re getting out of fishing as a direct result of this closure,” he said.

McGuire had proposed forming a shellfish council — similar to the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission — to take on some of the marketing and public relations issues that overwhelmed the industry and agencies this year. Panelists generally supported the idea, especially since changing ocean conditions may mean similar upheavals in the progression of the crab season in the future.

“Things are really changing for us,” Sloane said.

And while getting disaster aid and forming a marketing council are good ideas, clear protocols for testing is most important, some of the panelists said. Sloane said written and enforceable protocols for domoic acid testing and management, which include timing, notification procedures and opening protocols, are necessary. Lucas also mentioned the potential for crab quality testing after the Jan. 15 cutoff date should be part of the testing plan. This would ensure the public gets quality crab and the resource isn’t damaged by fishing on crab in softshell conditions, he said.

Some of the other suggestions included:

– Coordinating a media message and engaging all of the state departments and industry in the message to assure the public that crab testing is being done and, once the crab are clear, consumers should have no fear in buying and eating crab;
– Research into whether the 30 ppm threshold is accurate;
– Looking more closely at the 30-day fair start provisions;
– Consider a November-April season, so fishing on softshell crab is avoided.

McGuire said he’d continue to work with state agencies on protocols and would like to get the shellfish council up and running before 2017. In addition, McGuire plans to hold another, shorter hearing in July or August to hear about ocean and industry updates over the summer and a fifth hearing after the season opening in the fall.