PACIFIC SARDINES+ Larger Font | + Smaller Font

• Historically the sardine fishery was the largest fishery in the western hemisphere. During the heyday of the fishery, 1915-1951, California landed 83 to 93 percent of the total West Coast catch. [ see historic landings map ]

• At the zenith of the sardine fishery (circa 1945), Monterey boasted 19 canneries and 20 reduction plants. The fishing fleet numbered well over 100 boats, with 84 purse seine vessels. During this period, Monterey was known as the Sardine Capital of the World. In total tonnage, Monterey ranked third among the world’s major fishing ports (behind only Stavanger, Norway and Hull, England).

• Studies of fish scale deposition in ocean basin sediments going back 1,700 years indicate that sardine abundance fluctuates widely over periods averaging about 60 years; population declines are estimated to last an average of 36 years, while recoveries last an average of 30 years. The most recent period of abundance began in the late 1970s. Other sardine stocks around the world show similar natural fluctuations.

• Scientists declared the sardine resource fully recovered in 1999; the spawning biomass was estimated at more than one million metric tons.

• In 2000 California’s revived sardine fishery contributed about 20 percent of total real value added in the wetfish industry, representing almost one third of California exports by weight and nearly one fourth of California exports by value.

• Scientists estimated the coastwide 2006 spawning biomass at 1.3 million metric tons and established a conservative harvest guideline for the U.S. fishery at 152,564 MT. This harvest is now allocated by season between the resurgent Pacific Northwest fishery and the historic Monterey and San Pedro fisheries: 35 percent of the HG is released coastwide January 1-June 30, 40 percent is released July 1-September 15, and the remaining 25 percent is released September 16. Any unused seasonal HG is automatically rolled into the next harvest period within a year.

• The harvest guideline deducts 150,000 MT off the top of the biomass estimate for forage, then further reduces the allowable catch based on sea surface temperature, allowing only a 5 percent harvest rate when 3-year mean average SST falls below 16.7° Celsius.

CA’s CPS fishery is also managed under a limited entry program: 65 vessels are permitted to harvest sardines, and the fleet is strictly regulated with a capacity goal and maximum daily catch limit in addition to annual quota.

Representing California's Historic Fishery
Office: (805) 693-5430 - Mobile: (805) 350-3231
P.O. Box 1951, Buellton, Ca. 93427
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