Posts Tagged Anchovies

Nov 16 2015

Anchovy “collapse” a manufactured ‘crisis’

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D.B. Pleschner:
Anchovy “collapse” a manufactured ‘crisis’

Saving Seafood has covered issues related to the various “forage fish” campaigns of the past several years, which have been organized by interest groups in the wake of the Lenfest Report, “Little Fish, Big Impact.”  In today’s Santa Cruz Sentinal, Diane Pleschner, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, addresses a recent campaign regarding anchovy fishing in the Monterey Bay area. In her essay, Ms. Pleschner argues that a controversial recent study is based on outdated samples, ignoring the latest observations.  The Pacific Fishery Management Council votes on the issue later today.The California Wetfish Producers Association is a nonprofit dedicated to research and to promote sustainable wetfish resources.

 

SANTA CRUZ, California (November 15, 2015) — If you follow news about the Monterey Bay, you’ve undoubtedly heard the recent outcry by environmentalists in the media claiming the anchovy population in California has collapsed and the fishery must be closed immediately.

The current controversy stems largely from a study funded by environmental interests that claims an apocalyptic decline of 99 percent of the anchovy population from 1951 to 2011.

However, fishermen have seen a surge in anchovies in recent years. Data collected at the near shore Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System stations and other recent surveys also document a big upswing in anchovy numbers. For example, a 2015 NOAA rockfish cruise report found that “catches of [Pacific sardine and northern anchovy] larvae and pelagic juveniles were the highest ever in the core [Monterey Bay to Point Reyes] and north and still relatively high in the south.” Yet the recent study bases its conclusion on outdated historic anchovy egg and larval samples, not recent observation.

Outdated data didn’t stop extremists from seizing on the study to manufacture an anti-fishing crisis for anchovy where none exists. They’re now lobbying the Pacific Fishery Management Council for an emergency closure of the small anchovy fishery in Monterey Bay, saying the current anchovy catch limit of 25,000 metric tons is dangerously high.

In reality, anchovy management employs an extremely precautionary approach, capping the allowed harvest at 25 percent of the estimated population. Josh Lindsay, policy analyst for the National Marine Fisheries Service, which enforces the fishing cap, says, “We took the overfishing limit and told the fishing fleet that they could only catch 25,000 metric tons. That’s a pretty large buffer built into our management.”

Wetfish fishermen fish on a complex of species including sardine, mackerel and squid. Anchovy is a small – but important – part of the complex, a fill-in for Monterey fishermen when other species are not available. Environmental extremists ignore the fact the anchovy harvest has totaled less than half the allowed limit in the past two decades. The light effort is one reason why the fisheries service has not formally assessed the species since 1995, focusing limited research dollars on more active fisheries.

The big increase in anchovy abundance in nearshore waters in recent years has precipitated a record whale-watching spectacle in Monterey and along the Central Coast. Despite allegations to the contrary, whales and other marine life gorging on anchovies are oblivious to the fishery. In October 2013, for example, Monterrey Bay had record sightings of humpback whales, while fishing vessels caught more than 3,000 tons of anchovy.

Consider reports from fishermen:
  • Corbin Hanson, a southern California fisherman, saw a large volume of anchovy show up on the Southern California coast beginning around 2011. “The largest volume of anchovy I’ve ever seen was running up coast from Point Conception to Monterey this summer – miles of anchovies. … We couldn’t escape them. 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.”
  • Tom Noto has fished in Monterey for more than 30 years, one of only about eight fishermen who fish anchovy in on the edge of Monterey canyon. He says, “Anchovies like to dive deep. Our sonars mark anchovy in on the edge of Monterey canyon. He says, “Anchovies like to dive deep. Our sonars mark schools that are hundreds of feet thick, but our nets just skim the surface of these schools. … They’re are everywhere, but we only fish them in Monterey Bay.”
  • Fisherman Neil Guglielmo told the Santa Cruz Sentinel, “I’ve been fishing anchovies since 1959, and I don’t see any problem with the anchovies for the whales. … The [claim] that we’re scaring whales or catching their food source is ridiculous.”
When the Pacific Fishery Management Council convenes Nov. 15, to discuss anchovy, we hope sanity and best available common sense will prevail, in addition to “best available science.” Council members need to incorporate evidence of recent anchovy (and sardine) recruitment into future management decisions.
Nov 15 2015

Letters: Plentiful anchovies far from collapse

Plentiful anchovies far from collapse

I’ve been fishing for more than 50 years up and down the West Coast and I’m shocked at all the hysterical claims I’ve read in the media recently about the anchovy “collapse.” Much of the hype stemmed from an anchovy study still in peer review, but the truth of the matter is that its conclusions are disastrously wrong!

I’m one of a handful of 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.

I hope sanity prevails when the Pacific Council meets to decide the fate of the few Monterey fishermen who need to fish anchovy to pay our bills.

— Aniello Guglielmo, Camarillo


Published: http://www.montereyherald.com/opinion/

Nov 15 2015

Letters, Nov. 12, 2015: Anchovy population has not collapsed

Anchovy population has not collapsed

I’ve been fishing in Monterey and along the West Coast for more than 30 years and I’m one of only about eight fishermen who fish anchovy in Monterey Bay. I’m shocked at the recent outcry in the media that claims the anchovy population has collapsed!

Environmentalists who are calling for the immediate closure of our local anchovy fishery are basing their claims on a flawed study that deliberately omits data from recent years showing a huge upswing in the anchovy population.

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.

It’s time to stop pointing fingers at fishermen and get out and see what’s really going on in the ocean.

— Tom Noto, Salinas


Published: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com

Oct 7 2015

Researchers Keep Missing Picture on Sardines, Where there is a 1400 Year History of Boom and Bust

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

Copyright © 2015 Seafoodnews.com

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In an article in International Business Times (August 5, 2015), Aditya Tejas quoted researcher Malin Pinsky in his recently published paper that claims smaller, faster-growing fish like sardines and anchovies are more vulnerable to population collapses than larger fish.

“Climate variations or natural boom-and-bust cycles contribute to population fluctuation in small fast-growing fish, ” Pinsky said, “but when they are not overfished, our data showed that their populations didn’t have any more tendency to collapse than other fish. ” He called these findings counterintuitive because the opposite dynamic holds true on land: “Mice thrive while lions, tigers and elephants are endangered, ” he said.

While it’s common these days to blame the ocean’s woes on overfishing, the truth is Pinsky’s conclusions don’t paint a complete picture. Fortunately, we do have an accurate picture and it’s definitely better than the proverbial thousand words.

The picture is a graph (adapted from Baumgartner et al in CalCOFI Reports 1992, attached) that shows sardine booms and busts for the past 1,400 years. The data were extracted from an anaerobic trench in the Santa Barbara Channel which correlated sardine and anchovy recoveries and collapses with oceanic cycles.

(Click on Image for larger Version)

It’s important to note that most of sardine collapses in this timeframe occurred when there was virtually no commercial fishing. The best science now attributes great fluctuations and collapses experienced by sardines to be part of a natural cycle.

“Pinsky has never been a terrestrial biologist or naturalist or he would have known that small rodents have boom and bust cycles brought about by combinations of environmental conditions and the mice’s early maturity and high fecundity rates, ” says Dr. Richard Parrish, an expert in population dynamics now retired from the National Marine Fisheries Service, .

“All fish stocks show boom and bust cycles in recruitment unrelated to fishing, ” says Dr. Ray Hilborn, internationally respected fisheries scientist from the University of Washington. “Sardines in particular have been shown to have very great fluctuations and collapses long before commercial fishing. Fast growing, short-lived species will be much more likely to decline to a level called “collapse” when recruitment fluctuates because they are short lived — longer lived species won’t decline as much. ”

As a further poke in the eye to the truth, Pinsky cites sardines off the coast of Southern California as a species that has seen fluctuations for thousands of years, but “not at the levels that they’ve experienced in recent decades due to overfishing. ”

Again, this simply is not true.

Since the fishery reopened in 1987, Pacific sardines have been perhaps the best-managed fishery in the world – the poster fish for effective ecosystem-based management. The current harvest control rule, updated to be even more precautionary in 2014, sets a strict harvest guideline that considers ocean conditions and automatically reduces the catch limit as the biomass declines.

If the temperature is cold – which scientists believe hampers sardine recruitment – the harvest is reduced. And if the population size declines, both the harvest rate and the allowable catch will automatically decrease, and directed fishing will be stopped entirely when biomass declines below 150,000 mt.

In fact, the current sardine harvest rule is actually more precautionary than the original rule it replaced. It does this by producing an average long-term population size at 75 percent of the unfished size, leaving even more fish in the water, vs. 67 percent in the original rule. The original harvest rule reduced the minimum harvest rate to 5 percent during cold periods. The present has a minimum rate of 0 percent during cold periods.

Compare this to the 1940s and ’50s when the fishery harvest averaged 43 percent or more of the standing sardine stock with little regulatory oversight and no limit on the annual catch. This, coupled with unfavorable ocean conditions, culminated in the historic sardine fishery collapse that devastated Monterey’s Cannery Row.

But that was nearly 70 years ago, not “recent decades. ” Our current fishery harvest is less than a quarter of the rate observed during that historical sardine collapse.

As a scientist, Pinsky should be aware of the complex, proactive management efforts that have been in place for decades to prevent overfishing in California and the west coast. He should also be aware of the data from Baumgartner that contradicts his faulty conclusions.

D. B. Pleschner is executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, a nonprofit dedicated to research and to promote sustainable Wetfish resources.


Copyright © 2015 Seafoodnews.com

Nov 12 2013

Helicopter ride reveals enormous mass of anchovies, herded by dolphins and whales

When small fish are threatened by large fish or much larger marine mammals in the open ocean, instinct demands that the small fish group together to try to appear larger as a group.

But it’s not often that one of these swirling bait balls contains perhaps millions of anchovies and is large enough to dwarf, by many times, some of the largest predators to roam the ocean.

Nor is it often that a photographer and videographer just happen to be flying overhead when one of these remarkable spectacles plays out.

The accompanying image was captured this week off Ventura, California, by Liz Vernand, who was a passenger with Channel Islands Helicopters.

Read the full article here.

Sep 19 2013

Small fish bring big menu opportunities

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Despite their reputation as oily, smelly, fatty and usually packed in a tin, there’s lot to like about anchovies, sardines and smelt. They’re extremely flavorful, loaded with healthy omega-3s and abundant in our oceans. And while small fish are found most often on menus in Caesar salads, atop pizzas or inside sushi rolls, lately more chefs are using them in appetizers or entrees.

According to Datassential MenuTrends, 21 percent of all restaurant menus feature at least one variety of small fish, an increase of 2 percent since 2009. They can be found most often at fine-dining restaurants, where 36 percent of menus feature a small fish. Anchovies, appearing on 19 percent of menus, are the most common small fish offered by restaurants.

Their rarity on menus, along with and their distinct flavor, is precisely why chef Joe Realmuto loves to put anchovies, sardines and smelts on the menu at Nick & Toni’s East Hampton and Nick & Toni’s Café in New York City.

Read the full article here.

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Aug 17 2013

Anchovies are moving out of the can and into the mainstream as chefs and grocers embrace them

Seafood News
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Canadian Press] – August 16, 2013 – Maligned and misunderstood, anchovies have long been those stinky little fish that sneak into Caesar salad or top some adventurous person’s pizza.

“My father would eat them out of a can,” says New Orleans restaurateur and TV chef John Besh. “If Dad was going hunting, he’d grab a can of smoked oysters or anchovies and crackers and that would be his lunch.”

But today, chefs like Besh have moved anchovies to the top of the food chain, showcasing them as elegant bar snacks, sophisticated bruschetta or the foundation for pasta dishes and stews.

“They make friends and enemies quickly,” says Seamus Mullen, chef-owner of Tertulia in New York City. “A bad anchovy is not a good thing. It’s a question of making sure you get the right ones.”

Getting the “right” anchovies has become much easier in recent years. The mushy, salty tinned anchovies eaten by Besh’s father are still out there. But more and more, the shelves of gourmet stores and upscale supermarkets offer high-quality anchovies preserved in olive oil, pickled in vinegar or sometimes even fresh.

More menus feature items such as “boquerones,” white anchovies, often dressed with vinegar. Fresh anchovies might be cooked over a wood fire or dressed with breadcrumbs and garlic. Sometimes, anchovies go undercover.

Besh uses them as what he calls “nature’s MSG,” melting them into beef daube and lamb stew to intensify the savory flavours.

Nick Stefanelli, executive chef at Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca in Washington, D.C., uses them to make an ancient Roman fish sauce called garum.

“One of the most classic pasta dishes is spaghetti with fish sauce, garlic and chilies,” says Stefanelli, who includes the dish on his tasting menus. “The product itself really takes it where it needs to be… It’s so simple and beautiful.”

Anchovies have been a staple of Italian, Spanish and Provencal French cooking for centuries. French and Italian country stews use them to provide umami, a sense of meatiness and depth. They are made into marinades and tapenades, tossed into pasta and mixed with garlic, breadcrumbs and parsley to stuff vegetables, such as peppers and eggplant. In Spain, they are among the finest tapas.

Read the full article here.