Assemblymember Huffman's New Legislation Considers Value of California's Forage Species - Oceana USA

Assemblymember Huffman’s New Legislation Considers Value of California’s Forage Species

Oceana Commends Assemblymember Huffman’s Forward Thinking Policy

Press Release Date: February 22, 2011

Location: Sacramento, CA

Contact:

Dustin Cranor, APR 954.348.1314

Sacramento, CA — Legislation (AB 1299) introduced by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) will provide a much needed change in the way California manages its fisheries, one that will protect forage species–which form the foundation of the food web–which in turn benefits everything else that eats them. California forage species include Pacific herring, market squid, Pacific sardine, northern anchovy, juvenile rockfish, and several others. Oceana, recreational fishermen, and members of the fishing industry commend Assemblymember Huffman for putting forage species first and taking the initial step towards their protection in California.

 “This forward-thinking legislation will strengthen the resilience of our ocean ecosystem and foster vibrant coastal communities,” said Assemblymember Huffman.

 Currently, California lacks an official policy that recognizes the importance of forage species in state law. Building upon a west coast prohibition on the harvest of krill in 2009, AB 1299 will develop a California State policy that will for the first time recognize the value of forage species left in the ocean, require that any new fishery regulations for forage species account for their value as prey, prevent new fisheries from developing on currently unexploited forage species, and prioritize human consumption of forage species over their use as animal feed or fertilizer. 

 “Abundant forage species are critical to the sustainability and recovery of key fisheries like Chinook salmon, yelloweye rockfish, and white seabass, as well as whales, dolphins, and seabirds that make California’s oceans magnificent,” said Oceana California Program Director Dr. Geoff Shester. 

 Forage species face a multitude of potential threats including fishing pressure, ocean acidification, pollution, overfishing, global climate change, and the aquaculture industry. Along with other factors, lack of oceanic prey has been linked to the severe declines in Sacramento River fall Chinook runs, major bird reproductive failures and population declines, and marine mammal mortality events in California waters over the last decade.

 AB 1299 has tremendous support from California’s ocean based community members. California recreational fishermen lauded the bill’s introduction. Darrell Ticehurst, Chairman of the Coastside Fishing Club, stated “Without adequate forage to attract and sustain our target species, there would be no California saltwater recreational fishery. And in the case of our rebuilding rockfish, taking their forage away from them would be like taking medicine away from a recovering patient. Aside from the recreational benefit, our state economy simply cannot afford to put at risk the $1 billion we spend each year on saltwater angling.”

Paul Johnson, founder of the Monterey Fish Market, explains “Forage fish such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, squid and others are the keystone species that support the entire oceanic food web. As such they need to be managed in a way which takes into account their impact on the entire marine ecosystem. Rather than use these vital species as low-priced fodder for pigs, chickens and aquaculture, as we do today, we need to encourage their judicious use as healthy, delicious food for people while leaving plenty in the ocean to support wild fish, marine mammals and birds.”

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Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Our teams of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in scope and dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America (Washington, DC; Juneau, AK; Kotzebue, AK; Portland, OR; Monterey, CA; New York, NY), Europe (Madrid, Spain; Brussels, Belgium)Central America (Belize City, Belize) and South America (Santiago, Chile).  More than 500,000 members and e-activists in over 150 countries have already joined Oceana.