The press communiqué states that the effort of these environmentalists is to push for a more cautious approach to so-called forage fish, including squid, herring, anchovies and sardines. Geoff Shester, California program director for Monterey-based Oceana, said that this is an economic and job issue and some of the presumptions regulators use to set fishing limits are errant. At a meeting in Costa Mesa on Friday, Oceana and others will ask the Pacific Fishery Management Council to change both how it calculates the numbers of sardines in the sea, as well as how many it allows to be fished.
According to Shester new limits would not only protect the fish, but keep fisheries from collapsing as the local sardine catch did around World War II, turning Cannery Row from a thriving, stinking stretch of factories into a tourist attraction. Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association, said he is comfortable with the state’s fishery management plans but does believe forage fish warrant close scrutiny, concerned about their impacts on larger species.
Most of the sardines pulled from Monterey Bay are frozen and shipped abroad to meet rising worldwide demand, and some are concerned overfishing could lead to a collapse that affects larger species. The Pew Environment Group is joining the call to ban new forage fisheries, seeing that as a step to ecosystem-based fish management.