West Coast Sardine Crash Limits Fishermen’s Catch, Profits

by | Jan 6, 2014

The steep decline of West Coast sardine populations is hurting fishermen and marine animals. Unless the fishery recovers soon, both groups could suffer for years, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The shrinking numbers of fish has limited the amount fishermen are allowed to catch. In November, federal fishery managers slashed harvest limits by more than two-thirds, the newspaper reports.

The 2013 West Coast sardine market was valued at about $14.5 million, the National Marine Fisheries Service says. But California fishermen only caught $1.5 million worth of sardines last year, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Scientists don’t know the cause of the sardine crash but warn that the decline is likely starving brown pelicans, sea lions and other marine mammals and seabirds that rely on sardines for food, the Los Angeles times says.

In the first such shutdown since 1978, regulators cancelled the 2014 shrimp season in the Gulf of Maine, citing historic low stocks of shrimp due to overfishing and warming waters.

Big and small business must join governments and the science community to help reverse damage to the world’s oceans, according to a panel convened in October by the World Bank.

Also in October, Environmental Defense Fund launched a Fisheries Toolkit to help fishermen and seafood companies design and implement management systems to restore the sustainability and profitability to fisheries around the world.


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