Responding to concerns over a crashing Pacific sardine population, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (“Council”) voted this afternoon to close the commercial sardine fishery off the U.S. West Coast for the remainder of the current season.
Oceana applauds the Council for responding quickly to concerns of overfishing, and the dire effects inflicted on marine wildlife due to the lack of prey.
“The Council made the responsible decision to protect the last remaining sardine and help this population begin to recover,” said Ben Enticknap, Pacific campaign manager and senior scientist with Oceana. “Sardines are vital forage fish for a healthy ocean ecosystem.”
Vessels will be prohibited from targeting the approximately two thousand tons of unmet catch left in this season’s quota due to the emergency closure. The 2014-2015 season would have otherwise ended on June 30.
The National Marine Fisheries Service must now implement the Council’s recommendation, and indicated it could take action within a week.
Today’s decision follows on the heels of the Council’s vote on April 13 to close the commercial sardine fishery for the 2015-2016 season, which normally starts July 1. A new scientific assessment prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service found that the sardine population has collapsed 91 percent since 2007. Under current rules, there are not enough sardines to allow a commercial fishery for the next fishing year.
Moving forward, Oceana is requesting the Council overhaul its fishery management plan to account for ecosystem needs and increase the amount of sardines that must be left in the ocean before fishing should be allowed to occur in the future.
Learn more here about the current collapse of the Pacific sardine fishery, impacts to marine wildlife, and solutions to prevent a future crisis.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America, Asia, and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org