Today, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) adopted hard limits on the number of endangered marine mammals and sea turtles that can be injured or killed in the California-based swordfish drift gillnet fishery. Oceana commends the Council’s action to safeguard sensitive marine wildlife. If too many endangered species are caught over a two-year period, the fishery will be shut down for the remainder of the fishing season.
Since 1987, Louisiana has remained the only state to not enforce federal regulations requiring that shrimp otter trawl vessels use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs)—openings in nets that allow turtles to escape when accidentally caught. But in July, Louisiana reversed state law with the passage of House Bill 668, allowing Louisiana state officials to enforce TEDs on shrimp otter trawl vessels. The Louisiana shrimp industry supported the bill, with the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force, made up of industry stakeholders, officially voting in favor of reversing the 1987 law partly to help improve the conservation rating of their shrimp. Oceana has previously exposed the amount of bycatch in the Southeast Shrimp Trawl Fishery, and has worked for years to get Louisiana on board with federal law.
Texas became the 10th state in the U.S. to ban the sale of shark fins after signing a house bill into law. Texas had recently emerged as a hub for shark fins, with the state’s fin trade growing by 240 percent since 2010. This move also makes Texas the first state in the Gulf region to pass a shark fin sale ban, and follows several fin trade bans in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Washington. Shark finning is illegal in U.S. waters, but most states still import and export fins. The shark fin trade is largely responsible for millions of shark deaths per year and is significantly driving their decline. Oceana has campaigned against the shark fin trade for years, and has previously won victories at the state and Federal levels to establish and uphold shark fin bans in other states.
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved a proposal to protect over 35,000 square miles of ocean habitat, an area roughly equivalent to the size of Kentucky, from trawl and dredge fishing where deep sea corals live. This strategy is part of a coral conservation plan to protect known coral areas from current fishing efforts. Oceana has been working for more than a decade to identify and protect deep-sea corals from harmful fishing gears in United States waters and around the world.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted for a slight reduction to the Pacific halibut bycatch limits of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) groundfish fisheries. In the last 10 years (2004-2013), approximately 82 million pounds of mostly juvenile halibut have been wasted as bycatch in the federal groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea. The amount of halibut discarded as bycatch by the groundfish fisheries still exceeds the catch of the halibut fisheries in the region that catch halibut for human consumption. The action may result in an approximately 11 percent reduction from the average halibut bycatch, and might save up to 645,000 pounds of halibut from being wasted next year. The lower halibut bycatch limits may be in place by 2016 and would mostly affect the industrial bottom trawl fleet that catch large volumes of lower value flatfish for export to Asia.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted at its April meeting to close the Pacific sardine fishery early for the remainder of the 2015 season, and to keep the fishery closed during the 2015 to 2016 season. A new scientific assessment by the National Marine Fisheries Service finds the sardine population has collapsed by 91 percent since 2007, and that the population is estimated to be at 96,688 metric tons, far below the 150,000 metric tons required for fishing to occur. The fishery crash is causing ecological effects on marine wildlife, which may have widespread and lasting implications. The Council’s action marks an important first step towards recovering this important forage fish. 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.
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 Pacific Fishery Management Council voted yesterday to close the directed Pacific sardine fishery off the U.S. West Coast for the 2015-16 fishing year starting July 1. Oceana requests the Council take immediate emergency action to close the Pacific sardine fishery for the remainder of the current season, which is scheduled to end June 30. With approximately two thousand tons of unmet catch left in this season’s quota, the Council will consider emergency action for the current season later this week.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (“Council”), the federal advisory body that oversees fisheries policy for the U.S. West Coast, took final action today to prohibit development of new commercial fisheries for forage species in all federal ocean waters offshore Washington, Oregon, and California (3-200 nautical miles). Today’s decision is part of the Council’s first ever fishery ecosystem plan that seeks to proactively manage fisheries to ensure a healthy ocean ecosystem, and an abundant food source for commercially and recreationally important fishes like rockfish, salmon and tuna, as well as other ocean wildlife like whales and dolphins.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) finalized regulations that help recover the western Atlantic bluefin tuna population, which have declined by more than 80 percent in recent decades from overfishing and bycatch. As part of the Final Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan, NMFS will now close certain parts of the Gulf of Mexico and areas off North Carolina during the spring to protect spawning bluefin from longlines. In addition, the federal government is also implementing a strict limit on bluefin bycatch. Once fishermen reach their individual quota on bluefin bycatch, they will have to either stop fishing activity or obtain additional quota from other fishermen. Finally, NMFS will also require video cameras on longline fishing vessels to help improve data collection that currently relies solely on outside observer coverage.