Pacific sea nettle jellyfish - Chrysaora fuscescens (Photo: Dan90266)
Monterey Bay Council protects forage fish
Thursday, January 03, 2013, 22:40 (GMT + 9)
The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council has adopted a resolution recognizing the important role of forage species in the sanctuary and supporting state and federal fishery managers for their recent commitments to afford additional protections for the ocean’s small, but critically important marine life.
Oceana commends the diverse, 20-member Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) for its continued leadership in protecting the Sanctuary’s resources that are dependent on a healthy food web.
While some forage species – like sardines, herring, and squid – are subject to major commercial fisheries, other important forage species – like lanternfish, jellyfish, and krill – are not yet being fished.
In 2009, with support of the Sanctuary, the federal government established a ban on krill fishing to protect the ocean food chain. However, as the global demand for fish feed increases, the remaining unmanaged forage species could be subject to new industrial fisheries at any time, putting the ocean ecosystem at risk.
“The SAC resolution indicates a broad, growing coalition of support for the precautionary steps our fishery managers are taking to protect forage species,” said Geoff Shester, Oceana’s California Programme Director, who holds the Conservation seat on the SAC. “By protecting the forage base, our priceless underwater backyard will continue to be a highly sought destination for eco-tourism, recreational opportunities, and vibrant fisheries, ultimately benefiting our entire coastal community.”
Over the last year, the SAC has taken a deliberate approach to better understand the role of forage species, their management, and how they support the diversity of marine life in the Sanctuary. Its resolution supports the work of the California Fish and Game Commission and the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) for their commitments to improve forage species management.
In June 2012, the PFMC stated its objective to prohibit the development of new directed fisheries on forage species that are not currently managed until it can assess certain scientific information. Similarly, on 7 November, the California Fish and Game Commission unanimously adopted the state’s first policy guiding management of forage species.
The new SAC resolution will allow the Sanctuary to better align with the new policies adopted by state and federal fishery managers while supporting the respective implementing agencies.