Posts Tagged no-fishing zones

Oct 25 2013

Sustainable Seafood – A U.S. Success Story

NOAA   FishWatch

The United States is a recognized global leader in responsibly managed fisheries and sustainable seafood. And you can help too!

This video introduces consumers to, which provides easy-to-understand, science-based facts to help users make smart, sustainable seafood choices.

Through this video, you’ll learn more about “sustainability” and what NOAA is doing to ensure that our seafood is caught and farmed responsibly with consideration for the health of a species, the environment, and the livelihoods of the people that depend on them.

Have you ever thought about where that piece of salmon on your plate came from? It could have been caught in a wild fishery or harvested from an aquaculture operation. Maybe it’s from the United States, or maybe it was imported from another country, like Canada or Chile?

Read the full story here.

May 26 2012

Point/Counterpoint: Monterey Harbormaster: No need to massively limit forage fishing


Note: A shorter version is scheduled to appear in the Monterey Herald.

By Steve Scheiblauer, Harbormaster for the city of Monterey

More than 150 years ago, immigrant Chinese fishermen launched sampans into the chilly waters of Monterey Bay to capture squid. The Bay also lured fishermen from Sicily and other Mediterranean countries, who brought round-haul nets to fish for sardines.

This was the beginning of the largest fishery in the western hemisphere — California’s famed “wetfish” industry, imprinted on our collective conscience by writers like John Steinbeck.

Who doesn’t remember Cannery Row?

It was the plentiful schools of fish — especially sardines that stretch from the Gulf of California to Alaska during cycles of abundance — that provided the opportunity for generations of enterprising fishing families to prosper. These families helped build not only Monterey, but the ports of many other California cities, like San Diego, San Francisco and San Pedro — the fishing hub of Los Angeles.

But now, this historic industry ì named for the fish that were canned wet from the sea — is under attack by extremist groups who claim overfishing is occurring. That allegation is false; fishermen have long recognized that a sustainable fishery was good for both people and fish.

When the sardine resource began its storied decline in the late 1940s, wetfish fishermen levied an assessment on their catch and contributed to the beginning of the California Cooperative Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI).

A cooperative effort between the National Marine Fisheries Service, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Department of Fish and Game, CalCOFI now is one of the preeminent research efforts worldwide.

Research has since documented the dynamic fluctuations in coastal pelagic “wetfish” stocks, including sardine and anchovy, which alternate their cycles of abundance — sardines favoring warm water epochs and anchovy preferring cold.

Core samples from an anaerobic trench in the Southern California Bight found alternating layers of sardine and anchovy scales over a period of 1,400 years. Turns out, sardine stocks would have declined naturally even without fishing pressure.

Today the wetfish industry maintains its commitment to research with cooperative efforts ongoing for both sardine and squid.

Even though the canneries are gone due to their inability to compete on a now-global marketing stage, our wetfish industry is still the backbone of California’s fishing economy — responsible for more than 80 percent of the volume and more than 40 percent of dockside value in 2010.

Fast forward to earlier this month, when an in-depth study by a panel of 13 hand-picked scientists provided recommendations on policies to protect forage fish — like anchovy, sardines and market squid — that larger species feed on. The study by the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force concluded that overfishing of forage species is unfortunately occurring on a global scale.

But interestingly, these scientists also identified the West Coast as different, noting that California is “ahead of other parts of the world in how it manages some forage fish.” The region has “stricter monitoring and more conservative limits that could serve as a buffer against future crashes.”

The Lenfest Report provides a strong case that forage fish are managed better in California and the Northern California Current than anywhere else in the world. Overall, forage fisheries here account for less than two percent of total forage production (including both fished and unfished stocks), leaving 98 percent for other marine life.

Knowledgeable people understand that this is no accident. Fishing families have worked and are working with regulators to conserve California’s fisheries and coastal waters.

In fact, after a 20-year moratorium on sardine fishing, California adopted strict fishing regulations when the sardine resource rebounded. The federal government assumed management of coastal pelagic species in 1999 and approved a visionary management strategy for the west coast “forage” fish harvest, maintaining at least 75 percent of the fish in the ocean to ensure a resilient core biomass. The sardine protection rate is even higher at about 90 percent.

Even so, some environmental groups are calling for deep and unnecessary cutbacks in sardine fishing in California, as well as substantial harvest reductions in other forage fish fisheries, including herring, anchovies and squid.

Touting studies with faulty calculations, activists are lobbying federal regulators to massively limit fishing, if not ban these fisheries outright.

Apparently the facts don’t matter to groups with an anti-fishing agenda. Their rhetoric leaves those not familiar with the fishing industry with the impression that overfishing is a huge problem in California.

We hope decision-makers will see through the rhetoric when developing harvest policy for California’s historic, and still important, wetfish fisheries.

Note: The opinion piece above was written to counterpoint an editorial that was also published  in The Salinas Californian. You can access the debate online via  TheCalifornian.
Jan 10 2012

Turning the Corner on Ending Overfishing 2012 – Annual Catch Limits Now in Place for Most Federal Fisheries

Everyone – commercial and recreational fishermen, NGOs, Councils, Congress and NOAA – knew it would be a heavy lift to put accountability measures and catch limits in place for all federally managed fisheries. Five years ago this week the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act reauthorization was signed into law and required just that – catch limits for all federally managed fisheries. Well, 2012 is here and we are almost fully over the goal line. Yes, there are a few stragglers, but I can report that all federal fisheries will have catch limits in place in time for the 2012 fishing season.

Signed into law on January 12, 2007, the reauthorized Act called for all federal fisheries to be managed under annual catch limits and enforced through accountability measures by the end of 2011. Over the last five years, NOAA Fisheries, fishermen, the councils, our partner organizations, the science community and many others have been actively engaged and dedicated to achieving this goal.

Reaching this milestone represents a historic achievement and I want to particularly recognize the tremendous amount of effort and sacrifice on the part of our nation’s fishermen and fishing communities to get us here. Catch limits and accountability measures to rebuild stocks and ensure sustainable fisheries represent a collective investment in the future of fishing. And while these benefits will accrue for generations to come, in many cases they do require short-term cost. In addition to fishermen around the country, our eight Regional Fishery Management Councils deserve special recognition. Finally, the men and women of NOAA must also be recognized for their unflagging commitment to this effort and hard work in helping the nation turn the corner in our efforts to end overfishing and rebuild stocks.

Bold goals are difficult, and we all have weathered challenges, controversy and economic difficulties in pursuit of this one. But even as we stand here today with so much work behind us, we know that ending overfishing is not something that is accomplished as a discrete end point. Rather, it is a step in an ongoing and evolutionary process. The science and management of federal fisheries will continue to evolve, change and strengthen to support the needs of our commercial and recreational fisheries and our coastal and ocean resources.

As we begin 2012 and a new leg of this journey, I invite you to reflect on the importance of our collective accomplishment and the strength it provides us to move forward and tackle other issues still in front of us. Some current challenges include working to further refine our management approaches to better meet the needs of fishermen and coastal communities, building on our world class science to better understand trends in fish populations and ecosystem considerations, and taking stronger steps to preserve protected resources like endangered species and marine mammals. Other challenges on the horizon include addressing habitat loss, pollution and environmental change and their effects on our living marine resources. We also must continue to deal with global challenges like pirate fishing.

We have come a long way since 1976 when our nation’s fisheries were being decimated by uncontrolled overfishing by foreign fleets. Thirty-five years later, we now stand at a point in history when the U.S. model of fisheries management has evolved to become an international guidepost for sustainable fishery practices. Still, we have much work ahead. So, on behalf of NOAA Fisheries, I’m proud to congratulate all of you who have been dedicated to achieving this goal and thank you for your involvement and dedication to helping evolve and build the science-based management that has become the signature of U.S. fisheries.


Eric C. Schwaab, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries


See article: U.S. Tightens Fishing Policy, Setting 2012 Catch Limits for all Managed Species.



Jan 9 2012

U.S. tightens fishing policy, setting 2012 catch limits for all managed species

New restrictions on U.S. fisheries. - Photo courtesy of NOAA.

By Juliet Eilperin | Enviromental Reporter

In an effort to sustain commercial and recreational fishing for the next several decades, the United States this year will become the first country to impose catch limits for every species it manages, from Alaskan pollock to Caribbean queen conch.

Although the policy has attracted scant attention outside the community of those who fish in America and the officials who regulate them, it marks an important shift in a pursuit that has helped define the country since its founding.

Unlike most recent environmental policy debates, which have divided neatly along party lines, this one is about a policy that was forged under President George W. Bush and finalized with President Obama’s backing.

“It’s something that’s arguably first in the world,” said Eric Schwaab, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s assistant administrator for fisheries. “It’s a huge accomplishment for the country.”

Five years ago, Bush signed a reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which dates to the mid-1970s and governs all fishing in U.S. waters. A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers joined environmental groups, some fishing interests and scientists to insert language in the law requiring each fishery to have annual catch limits in place by the end of 2011 to end overfishing.

Although NOAA didn’t meet the law’s Dec. 31 deadline — it has finalized 40 of the 46 fishery management plans that cover all federally managed stocks — officials said they are confident that they will have annual catch limits in place by the time the 2012 fishing year begins for all species. (The timing varies depending on the fish, with some seasons starting May 1 or later.) Some fish, such as mahi-mahi and the prize game fish wahoo in the southeast Atlantic, will have catch limits for the first time.


Read the rest of the story on the Washington Post.



Oct 7 2011

Can Smartphones Help Stop Illegal Fishing in California?


When venturing into the waters along California’s 1,100 miles of coastline, at times it can be difficult to determine which areas are protected — where fishing and other recreational activities are restricted or limited.

Now outdoorsmen who carry a mobile device can access a searchable Department of Fish and Game website that maps the locations of the marine protected areas (MPAs).

“In general, whether you’re a hunter or a fisher or anything else, you should be pretty well aware of where you plan to go and what the regulations are that apply for the species you’re trying to take before you ever step out the door,” said Eric Miller, a department staff programmer analyst.

But those who aren’t up to speed, the new website  has been optimized for iPhone, iPad and Android.

The site allows fishermen, divers, ocean goers and the general public to search for current MPAs by name, county or general area. Officials said the site will be updated if and when new MPAs go into effect.

Through an interactive map, users can locate an MPA and find information about its boundaries and regulations. According to the department, some MPAs prohibit fishing or collecting of any kind — so the mobile site might help users avoid those mistakes.

“One of the cooler features of this website is that you can actually get your location and then see where you are on a map and then see if you are in an MPA, or if any MPAs are around you,” said Aaron Del Monte, a department staff programmer analyst.

For best results, the Department of Fish and Game recommends that the phone’s GPS feature is turned on.

Users who access the site out in the open ocean can track their current location through the site’s map function, with the mobile device’s GPS supporting the mobile site.

But can fishermen actually use the new mobile website in ocean waters?

Read the rest of the story from Government Technology.

Feb 10 2011

Dr. Ray Hilborn: ‘The end of overfishing,’ what does it mean?

Ray Hilborn

Dr. Ray Hilborn examines the end of overfishing in the United States. He addresses what fisheries managers can control and what is in the realm of nature, beyond the reach of human management.

(SEAFOOD.COM NEWS) – Feb 7, 2011 – The following article from Ray Hilborn is in response to NMFS chief scientist Steve Murawski’s widely reported comments last month that US overfishing as ended. This is part of a continuing series of occasional articles on fisheries and conservation topics by Ray Hilborn, Professor at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, prepared for News.

Overfishing has ended in the U. S. said Professor Steve Murawski, former chief fishery scientist for NOAA on January 8th 2011.

Could this possibly be true?

With many fish stocks still at low abundance, subject to rebuilding plans and listed as overfished, how could he argue that overfishing has ended?

To understand the issue we first must begin with the distinction between “overfished” and “overfishing.” Overfished is a term used when the abundance of the stock is low enough that its sustainable yield is significantly reduced. Overfishing is when the percentage harvested is higher than required to provide long term maximum sustainable yield. So “overfished” is about abundance and “overfishing” is about the percentage we harvest.

What Murawski said is that the percentage harvested for all U. S. federally managed fish stocks is now within the range that would produce maximum sustainable yield.

We have stopped fishing too hard; but many fish stocks remain at low abundance.

Read the rest of the story on

Feb 3 2011

Marine protection act challenged in state court

Anglers want the plan voided

By Mike Lee

February 2, 2011

Ron Baker, a fishing boat captain out of Point Loma, is opposed to the state’s decision to expand marine protected areas: “It’s going to affect a lot of people, not just sportsfishermen.” Photo by K.C. Alfred

Making good on a pledge, angler advocacy groups have sued the California Fish and Game Commission in an attempt to invalidate a sweeping marine protection plan for Southern California that was adopted by the state in December and another set covering the north Central Coast.

United Anglers of Southern California, the Coastside Fishing Club and San Diego fishing activist Robert Fletcher filed the lawsuit late last week in San Diego Superior Court.

“We think that the process is flawed — they didn’t follow the regulations,” said John Riordan, treasurer for United Anglers. “It’s restricting access to recreational fishermen (and) ocean users.”

Read the rest of the story in the San Diego Union Tribune here.

Jan 24 2011

MLPA proposal: tribes, fishing and environmental groups push for locally generated blueprint

John Driscoll/The Times-Standard
Posted: 01/22/2011 01:16:15 AM PST

Tribes and local fishing and environmental groups on Friday repeated their support of a regional proposal for marine reserves along the North Coast before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture in Eureka.

The hearing comes just prior to the California Fish and Game Commission’s Feb. 2 meeting in Sacramento at which a series of fishing and gathering closures and restrictions along the Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino county coastline are expected to be adopted. The regional group that generated a unified proposal for the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative has the support of more than 40 agencies and fishing and environmental organizations. The unified proposal was the first such agreement in the MLPA process in the state.

”I know it was a major achievement, but it doesn’t surprise me,” said committee Chairman Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro at the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors chambers.

Read the rest of the story from the Eureka Times-Standard here.

Jan 22 2011

Rebuilding Global Fisheries [Video]

Ray Hilborn and Boris Worm comment on their findings in the Rebuilding Global Fisheries study:

Jan 17 2011

Environmental Groups Concede Sea Otter Protections Deserve More Scientific Study

Peter Halmay diving

By Harry Liquornik and Peter Halmay

After a yearlong legal fight with two environmental groups, the federal government recently came to an agreement surrounding the future protection of the threatened California sea otter.

If you believe the rhetoric coming from the plaintiff groups, they scored a major victory.

According to their statements, the Otter Project and the Environmental Defense Center are now on the path to freeing the sea otters from government interference and allowing the animals to return to the waters off Southern California.

But that’s not really the whole story, or even the whole truth.

Instead of dealing with meaningful, yet difficult, water quality problems this ill-conceived lawsuit sought simplicity — allow sea otters to go find places to survive on their own.

Sadly, without even so much as demanding an update to the 2005 scientific research surrounding the sea otters’ habitat, and seemingly not allowing the government to comply with the Endangered Species Act, the lawsuit took aim at terminating a key element of the government’s sea otter recovery program.

What’s more, these groups also wanted to ignore the act’s requirements that demand a program for a listed threatened species — such as sea otters — must also avoid harming other listed species. In this case, two endangered native abalone species are a primary prey of the threatened sea otters and the abalone share the habitat that will likely be occupied by the sea otters if the management program is ultimately ended.

The program, which began in 1987, established a separate colony of sea otters at San Nicolas Island as an insurance policy to protect the species in the event of a major oil spill. The plan also set up a sea otter management zone to protect Southern California’s shellfish fisheries, which represent a critical part of the state’s marine ecosystem and are an important element of many coastal communities.

Despite what the lawsuit claimed, the program has been a success.

Currently, the San Nicolas Island colony boasts the healthiest sea otters in California; these animals are reproducing at double the rate of the mainland population. Conversely, the island success stands in stark contrast to the mainland population, where approximately 300 sea otters die each year.

It’s for these reasons that several groups who know that a comprehensive ecosystem-wide protection plan is much more effective than a species-by-species approach, intervened in the lawsuit. This coalition, headed by the California Sea Urchin Commission, understands that without a functional ecosystem management plan, all species are at risk, not just a single target species. And that’s why we must redouble our efforts to fulfill all the elements of the 1987 program.

Thankfully, the court-approved agreement forced the plaintiffs to ultimately agree with the Sea Urchin Commission and its partners on practically all points put forward — that updating the 2005 study was appropriate; all elements of a final decision should in fact depend on a new analysis; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should consider impacts to other protected marine species; and it should also consider the negative impact that poor water quality is having on sea otters. So what did the plaintiffs get for their lawsuit efforts?

They got taxpayers to reimburse them $55,000 in legal fees for an agreement which they could have received with a written request and first-class stamp.

And what did the people of California get, besides an unnecessary bill? A chance for a comprehensive review of the translocation experiment and a chance to further develop a meaningful ecosystem-based management of the resources.

Harry Liquornik serves as chairman of the California Sea Urchin Commission and Peter Halmay is a former member of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s sea otter recovery implementation team. Both are commercial sea urchin divers.