Ocean Currents » forage fish http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Wed, 25 May 2016 17:06:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Update: Forage Fish Protection Begins on the West Coast http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/04/update-forage-fish-protection-begins-on-the-west-coast/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/05/04/update-forage-fish-protection-begins-on-the-west-coast/#comments Wed, 04 May 2016 12:00:55 +0000 Greg Helms http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12008

I have another fin-tastic update for you, from the West Coast!

If you recall, about five weeks ago I wrote in gratitude over the outpouring of support from Ocean Conservancy activists, who together with other conservation supporters sent nearly 100,000 letters to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) asking them to finalize protection for West Coast forage fish.

We said we’d get back to you on the final outcome and I’m happy to tell you about this victory! As of today, the final rule is complete and these fish will now be protected, and their immense importance to a range of predators from rockfish to whales to seabirds sustained.

The final rule will prohibit fishing for a list of 11 types of small, schooling marine species—including one that accounts for more than half of all deep-sea fish biomass—unless first reviewed and determined sustainable by federal fisheries managers.

In addition to the tremendous positive impact on the marine ecosystem, NMFS provided a big shout-out in support of the role of our activists in their decision, saying

Several letters from environmental organizations included petitions supporting the action, with signatures or comments from 91,966 people supporting the action… NMFS appreciates the broad public interest in this rulemaking and has taken the strong public support it received during the comment period into account in its approval of this final rule.

We’ll keep swimming forward to support corresponding forage protection in other West Coast areas such as California state waters, and keep you posted. Thanks again for helping make this historic conservation achievement possible!

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Thanks to YOU, Fish Conservation Swims Forward http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/19/thanks-to-you-fish-conservation-swims-forward/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/02/19/thanks-to-you-fish-conservation-swims-forward/#comments Fri, 19 Feb 2016 22:48:28 +0000 Greg Helms http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11519

Late last month, ocean advocates and supporters took action to help protect the base of the Pacific Ocean’s ecosystem by supporting a ban on commercial fishing on unmanaged forage fish in federal waters.  And, I was so excited to see that a tidal wave of Ocean Conservancy’s supporters took action, sending more than 17,000 letters to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) asking for final approval of this important measure!

Since this campaign is joined by a number of ocean conservation groups around the country, NMFS has received nearly 100,000 total public comments on the issue.  WOW—that’s a big amount of support for such little (but important fish). So, thanks to YOU!

I bet you’re wondering about the outcome—did all of these messages have a BIG impact? Am I writing to tell you about a victory? Well, not quite yet! We won’t know the final outcome until perhaps springtime whether this measure will become law. Stay tuned—I promise to report back, when we have more information.

But, we can say we’ve made an incredible showing for conservation, thanks to YOU. 

Meanwhile, we can report that this effort has prompted further action along the West Coast. Back in 2012, fish managers in California adopted a visionary policy on forage species to recognize the special importance of forage species to the California marine ecosystem.  The federal rule on forage fish protection—that you helped advance with your recent action—also provided an opportunity to extend those protections to California. And, early this month, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials did just that, scheduling forage fish protection similar to the federal rule for implementation this year.

So, big thanks to our resource managers in California as well.

Let’s hope for more two-for-one deals for ocean conservation in 2016!

 

 

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Little Fish. Big Deal. http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/01/24/little-fish-big-deal/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/01/24/little-fish-big-deal/#comments Sun, 24 Jan 2016 14:30:51 +0000 Greg Helms http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=11347

We’re making a very big deal about very little fish on the U.S. West Coast—and we hope you’ll do the same! These little fish, called forage fish, are crucial to the overall health of the marine ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean. These fish are important for the survival of seabirds, marine mammals, and bigger fish like salmon, halibut and tuna.

Little Fish. Big Deal. Take action today and let NOAA Fisheries know you support protections for forage fish.

Federal fishery managers are considering a proposed rule to protect seven groups of forage fish species in federal waters off the U.S. West Coast. This action would culminate a years-long process in which environmental organizations, fishery managers and ocean lovers have voiced support for safeguarding forage fish because of their importance to a healthy ocean.

Take action: A little bit of your time would make a big difference for the ocean food web.

Make your voice heard! NOAA Fisheries is only accepting comments for the next week, so please take action today, before the comment period closes!

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The Fish We Need to Feed 9 Billion People http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/22/the-fish-we-need-to-feed-9-billion-people/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/22/the-fish-we-need-to-feed-9-billion-people/#comments Wed, 22 May 2013 15:50:26 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5848

Salmon in the Ketchikan, Alaska harbor credit — Chris Howerton

The following is an excerpt from a post that first appeared on National Geographic’s Ocean Views:

Smart fisheries management is a great place to start a conversation about putting the ocean at the center of the world’s biggest challenges.  This is because the most profitable type of fishing is sustainable fishing – better management helps fishermen and the ocean at the same time.

Sustainable fishing means keeping enough fish in the water to reproduce and ensure a bountiful catch in the future. It’s a balancing act, but sustainable fisheries are in everyone’s best interest – from fishermen to distributors to gear manufacturers to retailers to consumers. If you’re a fisherman and you want to pass on your traditions to the next generation, or you want to be able to make good money 10 years from now, the most profitable way to fish is sustainably.

Unfortunately, overfishing due to poor fisheries management remains a global problem that threatens ecosystem health and human survival. For example, without enough forage fish—small fish like anchovies, sardines, and squid—the larger predators, like tuna, that feed on them will start to disappear as well.

That matters because we are facing a future with 9 billion people on the planet, and with that future comes huge concerns for food security.

Read the full post at National Geographic

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Moving Toward the Future of Fisheries Management http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/10/moving-toward-the-future-of-fisheries-management/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/05/10/moving-toward-the-future-of-fisheries-management/#comments Fri, 10 May 2013 15:30:00 +0000 Greg Helms http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5750

Pacific Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus orientalis) hunting Pacific Sardines (Sardinops sagax) Pacific / California / USA (Monterey Bay Aquarium)

In Ocean Conservancy and Pew Charitable Trusts’ recent report “The Law That’s Saving American Fisheries”, we make three key recommendations about how to improve the already vital law that governs our nation’s fisheries:

  • Minimize the habitat damage and bycatch of indiscriminate fishing.
  • Ensure that adequate forage fish are in the water to feed the larger ecosystem
  • Promote ecosystem-based fisheries management

That’s why we were so excited when the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (Council) recently reached a long-awaited milestone in transitioning toward an ecosystem-based approach to managing seafood harvest.  The Council’s adoption of a Fisheries Ecosystem Plan (FEP) establishes not only a comprehensive foundation for considering the condition of the California Current Ecosystem  in harvest planning and management, but sets a leading example for modernizing fisheries management across the globe.

How is ecosystem-based management different?  Instead of focusing on an individual ocean issues or species, the strategy shifts to the entire ecosystems in which such species or concerns exist.  So decision-makers then consider the habitats that ocean wildlife require at each stage of life, their roles as predator and prey, the natural variations in populations in different places and at different times, and of course the critical role played by humans—climate change, ocean acidification, demands for food and recreation, etc.

Until now, managing the vast and life-giving harvest of seafood from the world’s oceans has followed a species-specific approach. This has contributed to well-known and tragic consequences, such as collapsed fisheries and the communities that depended on them.

The Fisheries Ecosystem Plan adopted last month gives the Pacific Fisheries Council a dramatically more comprehensive and useful suite of information to consider when making decisions on fisheries policy.  The plan rests on a description of Pacific ecosystem dynamics that affect, and are affected by, Council harvest policy. It also establishes a set of initiatives to gather and assess additional ecosystem data for to use in future management decisions.  Critically, they can guide Council policy within individual fishery Management Plans and also inform effects and tradeoffs between them.  Initiative #1 will develop data and tools for use in managing the food base for Pacific fisheries – called “forage fish”, an essential ecosystem component, and assist in prohibiting fishing for currently unmanaged species of forage fish.  The Council will discuss this critical preventative measure in June.

Though the Fisheries Ecosystem Plan is informational for now, meaning it holds only advisory power, it is a critical step in establishing a foundation for truly ecosystem-based management.  The real effect of the plan will flow from its ecosystem initiatives, and action on the Forage Initiative in June will reveal how much early stock the Council is putting into its important new ecosystem plan.

These first steps taken in the Pacific region will hopefully serve as early indicators for the rest of the country as we work to promote and improve fisheries management.  Read more about the Law That’s Saving American Fisheries here.

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Leadership in a Time of National Division http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/07/leadership-in-a-time-of-national-division/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/07/leadership-in-a-time-of-national-division/#comments Thu, 08 Nov 2012 00:34:51 +0000 George Leonard http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3462

Credit: George H. Leonard

After a year-long campaign, the voters have spoken and President Obama will lead the country for another four years. But while the Electoral College was decisive, the popular vote was essentially split; as a group, the American people remain deeply divided over many critical issues facing our nation – from health care to national defense.

This week, while national attention has been focused on politics at the highest level, fishery managers along the west coast quietly demonstrated unity and leadership by voting to advance important protections for forage fish – the small and often forgotten fish that form the base of the ocean food web.

Why is this such a big deal? Because as in politics, fisheries management is often divisive and making progress requires leadership. When our officials take important steps to better protect the ocean we should give credit where credit is due.

Today, the California Fish and Game Commission and yesterday, members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council, signaled commitments to policies that will help ensure enough forage fish remain in the ocean for the many predators, like whales, dolphins and seabirds, which are dependent upon them. When fully implemented through new regulations, these protections in the Pacific could be a model for the nation and an important first step in moving toward comprehensive ecosystem-based fishery management. That has my community – the conservation community- celebrating.

But it’s not just conservationists applauding the forward thinking leadership on forage fish. This week’s pair of votes shows that a genuine consensus has emerged that “little fish” have tremendous value to people as well as bigger fish, supporting fisheries and ocean related jobs that provide over $20 billion worth of economic activity throughout the region. That is why groups voicing support for forage fish protections included seafood businesses, tourism operators like whale watching boats, recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, as well as conservation organizations up and down the coast.

In fact, California’s new policy was crafted by fishing and conservation interests (including Ocean Conservancy) working collaboratively, based on their shared interest in ensuring a healthy and productive ocean for all. But don’t get me wrong; there is more work to be done, including finalizing these commitments and getting them implemented in the water.

Resolving the differences that will likely emerge during these processes won’t be easy.  But like crossing the political aisle, when leaders put aside differences and seek common ground, progress can be made. In the long run, a healthy ocean depends on having more examples of the kind of leadership displayed by fishery managers this week on forage fish.

Our nation’s elected officials could learn a thing or two from those on the west coast who care about forage fish. There are benefits to working together.

Indeed, leadership matters.

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Forage Fish: The Tiny Fish That Support Our Entire Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/23/forage-fish-the-tiny-fish-that-support-our-entire-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/23/forage-fish-the-tiny-fish-that-support-our-entire-ocean/#comments Tue, 23 Oct 2012 22:50:50 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3320 California’s Fish & Game Commission is considering making big changes to better protect some of the ocean’s smallest fish.

If you live in California, you can help us protect these vitally important fish. For the sake of our ocean, we must ensure these improvements get passed.

Known as “forage fish,” small schooling fish like sardines, anchovies and herring — play a crucial role in the ocean food web and in our overall economic well being.

Need proof? Look toward the seabirds, who suffer a drop in birth rates when forage fish populations drop too low. Look toward marine mammals like humpback whales, which weigh around 40 tons yet rely almost completely on forage fish to survive. Or ask the fishermen—commercial and recreational fishermen agree that big fish need little fish. The fish we like to catch and eat, like salmon, tuna and rockfish, all feed on forage fish.

Current regulations typically don’t recognize the value of forage species as a crucial food source for top predators—and we need all our Californian supporters to help us change that.

The California Fish and Game Commission meets on Nov. 7 to consider adopting a formal state policy recognizing the importance of forage fish. This policy was crafted collaboratively by conservation groups and the fishing industry, and is a significant step toward helping our ocean.

If you live in California, please take action and help ensure the Commission adopts this important policy.

Thank you for your continued support and for helping to make this historic step for our ocean possible.

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