Oceana Applauds Advancement of U.S. West Coast Forage Fish Protections
Regional Fishery Council a Step Closer toward Safeguarding Pacific Ocean Food Web
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC), the federal advisory body that oversees fisheries policy for the U.S. West Coast, took preliminary action Saturday to prohibit development of new commercial fisheries for forage species in federal ocean waters offshore Washington, Oregon, and California. Forage species, the small critters at the base of the food web, are vital to healthy oceans.
At its meeting in Spokane, Washington, the PFMC adopted a preliminary preferred alternative to protect seven groups of forage fish from the development of new commercial fisheries: round and thread herring, mesopelagic fishes, Pacific sand lance, Pacific saury, Silversides, Osmerid smelts, and pelagic squids (other than Humboldt squid). These seven groups include hundreds of important forage species in the California Current ecosystem and the proposed new protections have received across-the-board support from environmental NGOs and members of the fishing industry alike. Final action on this proposal is scheduled for March 2015.
In response to the PFMC decision, Ben Enticknap, Oceana’s Pacific Campaign Manager & Senior Scientist, released the following statement:
“Abundant populations of forage species are critical to a healthy ocean. The dynamic ocean food web off the U.S. West Coast, which supports commercial fisheries, ocean tourism, and recreational activity, could not prosper without a robust forage backbone. Oceana applauds the PFMC’s decision to advance an alternative that will proactively protect hundreds of forage species from the development of new commercial fisheries. Being on the forefront of precautionary ecosystem-based management could help avoid the collapse of existing fisheries and ensure abundant ocean wildlife into the future. Rather than opening new fisheries for little understood species, the Pacific Fishery Management Council is first looking to scientists and the fishing industry to clearly illustrate the role forage species play in the West Coast’s marine ecosystem before new fisheries are allowed to begin. It’s a good day for anyone interested in maintaining and protecting the health of the U.S. Pacific, and this action could become a conservation model for oceans around the world.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.
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