Tag Archives: Fish

What Leonardo DiCaprio, President Obama, and Secretary of State Kerry Want You to Know

Leonardo DiCaprio has just cast both his fame and a small fortune  into solving ocean conservation problems and is counting on all of us to help.  On the political front, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry continue to put the ocean health high on their agendas, and there is a sense of urgency underlying their stance.

In some ways, it is the wild west out on the oceans, where greed exceeds rationality, but we may be on our way to doing something about it. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that President Obama plans to expand the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument, a grouping of seven islands and atolls in the south-central Pacific Ocean. Secretary of State John F. Kerry is making ocean health a priority:

An online course called “Ocean Solutions”, taught by Professor Duarte at the University of Western Australia, is also sounding the alarm that we are nightmarish-ly close to destroying the wold’s remaining ocean fish populations. We are running out of time (but as promised by the class title, solutions are offered, some of which are fairly draconian but all of which have to happen now. I highly recommend the class if it is still open).
And after several visits in the pre-dawn hours to the Honolulu Fish Auction (where the fleet of long-liners sell their catch) I have learned that while the U.S. fisherman are highly regulated, others are not once they are outside of our territorial waters, causing economic hardship to local fishermen that eventually cascade into problems for whales and dolphins that are seen as competitors for the dwindling fish stocks of the more nearshore, smaller fish species.
Our taste for top ocean predators not only drives up the price, but as I have learned, has no equivalent among land animals in terms of the food chain – tuna and bill fish are at the same trophic level as a mythological land animal would be that ate another mythological animal that ate wolves! We have no idea at this point how these top fish predators control the marine environment, and as they become scarcer we look for smaller and smaller species – yet we really have no idea what that is doing to the ocean food web either. From Fisherman’s Voice, Honolulu:

Tuna being off-loaded.
Tuna being off-loaded.

Although the prime species at the auction is bigeye tuna, a lot of other fish come in. After the bigeye is sold, they move to skipjack tuna, albacore tuna and yellowfin tuna. Then the billfish: broadbill swordfish, shortbill spearfish and striped marlin; and the other open ocean fish like dolphinfish, wahoo, moonfish and bigscale pomfret. Some bottom fishermen, too, sell grouper, red snapper, crimson snapper, russet jobfish, yellowbar jobfish, yellowstriped snapper and lavender jobfish at the auction.
Outside, while the auction is going on, the captain of one boat watches as his 10 tons of bigeye tuna are offloaded–and sold nearly as fast they can reach the floor. The 100-foot vessel usually makes three-week voyages, going from 400 to 800 miles offshore. This trip, however, was cut short and his catch wasn’t what it could have been. But he says even his best catches are nothing next to the Japanese and European longliners, who have superior technology. “We’re just fishermen,” he says. “And right now this is one of our last open fisheries since Alaska went to ITQs. That doesn’t even seem legal,” he adds. With the cost of fuel and bait (he paid 22 dollars a case for frozen sardines), he says they’re not making much money, but the catch has been constant, so far.

Benefactors like DiCapro and our politicians need your support to overcome partisan and international conflicts, and helping the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is a good place to start.

“Losing Nemo” – Will the World Oceans be Devoid of Fish by 2048? This Film Says Yes, Unless We Change Policies Soon

A European group, ‘The Black Fish‘, is working hard to get the message out about the state of the world’s fisheries, and their message is that without better oversight the economic gain of irresponsible fishing will drive fish stocks to extinction.  This Dutch group has been fundamental in the struggle to free the orca Morgan from captivity since her capture, but their main focus is on the fish stocks in the Mediterranean Sea, where they say that fishing laws are flagrantly violated.
The Black Fish have now produced an interesting short animated film “Losing Nemo” in which the world’s future is portrayed as very grim – it shows that not just the loss of fish will occur, but along with it will go all the marine life that is dependent upon the fish. Below is “Losing Nemo”. The group provides links to support their claims, and these references are presented here as well.
It is not too late to turn this situation around, but it is going to require that we all do our bit. If you can do nothing else, please consume fish responsibly and consult NOAA’s FishWatch to find out what kinds of fish are considered good choices.

nature01610-f1.2 fish biomass world

FIGURE 1. Time trends of community biomass in oceanic (a–i) and shelf (j–m) ecosystems.

From the following article:

Rapid worldwide depletion of predatory fish communities
Ransom A. Myers and Boris Worm
Nature 423, 280-283(15 May 2003)
Serious concerns have been raised about the ecological effects of industrialized fishing1, 2, 3, spurring a United Nations resolution on restoring fisheries and marine ecosystems to healthy levels4. However, a prerequisite for restoration is a general understanding of the composition and abundance of unexploited fish communities, relative to contemporary ones. We constructed trajectories of community biomass and composition of large predatory fishes in four continental shelf and nine oceanic systems, using all available data from the beginning of exploitation. Industrialized fisheries typically reduced community biomass by 80% within 15 years of exploitation. Compensatory increases in fast-growing species were observed, but often reversed within a decade. Using a meta-analytic approach, we estimate that large predatory fish biomass today is only about 10% of pre-industrial levels. We conclude that declines of large predators in coastal regions5 have extended throughout the global ocean, with potentially serious consequences for ecosystems5, 6,7. Our analysis suggests that management based on recent data alone may be misleading, and provides minimum estimates for unexploited communities, which could serve as the ‘missing baseline’8 needed for future restoration efforts.

Defining and estimating global marine fisheries bycatch

Unselective fishing catches non-target organisms as ‘bycatch’—an issue of critical ocean conservation and resource management concern. However, the situation is confused because perceptions of target and non target catch vary widely, impeding efforts to estimate bycatch globally. To remedy this, the term needs to be redefined as a consistent definition that establishes what should be considered bycatch. A new definition is put forward as: ‘bycatch is catch that is either unused or unmanaged’. Applying this definition to global marine fisheries data conservatively indicates that bycatch represents 40.4 percent of global marine catches, exposing systemic gaps in fisheries policy and management.
Reference: DAVIES RWD, et al. Defining and estimating global marine fisheries bycatch. Marine Policy (2009), doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2009.01.003.
Science 3 November 2006:
Vol. 314 no. 5800 pp. 787-790
DOI: 10.1126/science.1132294


Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services

Human-dominated marine ecosystems are experiencing accelerating loss of populations and species, with largely unknown consequences. We analyzed local experiments, long-term regional time series, and global fisheries data to test how biodiversity loss affects marine ecosystem services across temporal and spatial scales. Overall, rates of resource collapse increased and recovery potential, stability, and water quality decreased exponentially with declining diversity. Restoration of biodiversity, in contrast, increased productivity fourfold and decreased variability by 21%, on average. We conclude that marine biodiversity loss is increasingly impairing the ocean’s capacity to provide food, maintain water quality, and recover from perturbations. Yet available data suggest that at this point, these trends are still reversible.

Saving the Oceans, Saving Ourselves – an Hawaiian Approach

Leaders in Hawaii from diverse backgrounds are sharing their vision in volunteer training sessions on how to resolve the ecological challenges that face humanity as we desperately search for answers to climate change and marine species extinction. Their message is both succinct and complex, and it boils down to us embracing our differences and learning to live within our means. Last night I took the first of a series of workshops on the subject.
When the elevator doors opened into the suite of rooms at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary I stepped into a fresh and dynamic space.  All of my preconceived notions immediately left with the elevator as it departed, along with all the frets caused by a day too jam-packed with errands.  With no time for dinner, I’d run into Starbucks and snagged a salad which was slowly going limp in my bag as I raced to attend what I thought would be pretty basic coverage of what I already knew.
But the workshop on Ocean Awareness is required before you can volunteer for programs designed to help some of Hawaii’s endangered species, and my deep respect for anyone who mobilizes to help the oceans and its creatures motivated me to go along, take the classes, and start volunteering.  As a government institution NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric  Administration) – which sponsors the Ocean Awareness Training (OAT) – has historically been a cumbersome, lumbering government body in the department of commerce, often immobilized by the conflict between commercial interests and environmental interests. But last night’s workshop proved that NOAA has the ability to reinvent itself and look for new solutions.
The physical space felt like an art gallery with its huge, stunningly simple photos of marine life against the stark walls – a very effective reminder of what has drawn such a diverse array on interests together – but what was most significant was the tenor and energy of the group leaders.  It was immediately clear that they were motivated by passions for the ocean, and I am sure that every workshop attendee felt charged and optimistic within minutes.
There was nothing old-school about any of it, from the creative coming together of private, educational, and government resources, to the embracing of Hawaiian values.

Maunalua Bay Watershed (Malamamaunalua.org)
Maunalua Bay Watershed (Malamamaunalua.org)

The kick-off presentation was about the ongoing struggle to save one of Oahu’s gentle bays, Maunalua Bay, which had been gradually smothered by invasive seaweed fed by runoff due to overdevelopment, before serious and continuing steps were taken to bring the seaweed under control.  Because I had the good fortune to stay with friends there while looking for a permanent place to live, I often encountered the volunteers who showed up to pull the seaweed when I took my dog on his daily early morning beach walk, and always got the feeling that the volunteers were every bit as relentless in removal as the seaweed is in growing.  After the talk last night, I’d say the seaweed doesn’t stand a chance in the long run.
On those same walks I often met local fishermen, and from them I learned the Hawaiian names of a few of the fish, and got glimpses into the Hawaiian way of living with the ocean. Sometimes they would be down at the beach at first light, studying the behavior of the bait fish (which told them which bigger fish might be there) before deciding on where and when to fish. Other times I would talk to the spear fishermen, and they would show me their catches and explain how they looked for signs of spawning.  I never witnessed anyone taking too much, and often they went home empty-handed – and I learned last night that illegal fishing is a huge problem (and probably the reason that the responsible fishermen had trouble).
(Photo by author, 2007, Oahu)
(Photo by author, 2007, Oahu)

Fundamental to the Ocean Awareness training was the energizing and embracing presentation on Ahupua’a, the Hawaiian system for living fully in allotted resources, and on native Hawaiian values. We broke into small groups and learned, by writing and drawing exercises, that these values underlie the warmth and strength of the Hawaiian culture, a culture that has much to offer.
We learned that Hawaii is the original evolutionary point for some species of reef fish. (Photo courtesy blogs.roanoke.com)
We learned that Hawaii is the original evolutionary point for some species of reef fish. (Photo courtesy blogs.roanoke.com)

The final talk of the evening was on Hawaiian reef ecology, and stressed that reefs everywhere, as in Maunalua Bay, are part of the larger ecology…and that we humans are just another species having an impact, intended or not. Briefly mentioned were global warming and ocean acidification, and the advice given to help fix things was simply to tread lightly, live simply and leave a small footprint. The speaker quietly reminded us that the oceans would be just fine without us, but not the other way around.
Or as the Hawaiians put it, live ‘pono’, to “consider all persons, relationships, and present situations when making decisions.”
More information:
Ocean Awareness Training
Ahupua’a  System and Native Hawaiian Values, Palakiko Yagodich, Interpret Hawai’i Coordinator
Hawaiian Reef Ecology, Mark Heckman, Hawaii Institute for Marine Biology
Malama Maunalua, Anna Romano , Volunteer and Events Coordinator
Sent from my iPad

Dead Humpback Whale Found in B.C. Salmon Farm – Another Reason Not to Consume These Farm Raised Fish

Canada Press

Three great reasons to avoid farm raised Atlantic salmon; it is an unhealthy food choice, the farming practices trash the environment, and the nets kill marine mammals and birds.
According to The Globe and Mail, a humpback whale was found dead inside a British Columbia, Canada fish farm and so far no one knows how it got there. Some are claiming that the whale died at sea, but that seems unlikely.

“There is no visible trauma. It hasn’t been shot, thank goodness, it hasn’t been hit by a boat,” [Larry Paike, Director of Conservation and Protection] said Thursday. “So there are a number of possible scenarios. One it dies of natural causes, drifts into a hole in the predator net and once it bloats comes up underneath. That is kind of like trying to shoot a hockey puck from centre ice into a golf cup holder.
“A more likely scenario is it was feeding, became disoriented, confused … and somehow became encumbered with the ropes from the predator net, or the predator net itself, and then subsequently drowned.”
Mr. Paike said a necropsy would be done Friday to determine cause of death.
“Certainly water in the lungs would indicate to me it’s drowned,” he said.

Environmentalist David Suzuki says of the nets: “If net cages have problems keeping farmed salmon in, they also have trouble keeping out predators out. Fisheries and Oceans Canada reports that between 1996 and 2008, fish farmers killed 3,239 harbour seals and 7,678 Steller’s sea lions. Sometimes, the salmon farm nets themselves kill wildlife. In 2007, 51 sea lions got tangled in nets and drowned at a single farm.”
All to raise toxic fish: : Health details from the Environmental Defense Fund – Salmon » Atlantic salmon (farmed)
“This is an Eco-Worst choice. If you decide to eat it, we recommend the following due to elevated PCBs levels:

Women should eat no more than 2 meals per month
Men should eat no more than 1 meal per month
Kids age 6-12 should eat no more than 1 meal per month
Kids up to age 6 should eat no more than ½ meals per month”

Wildlife biologist Dr. Alexandra Morton has been working to save the once pristine waterways around Vancouver Island, B.C. where salmon farming takes place, and is passionate about saving the wild salmon from the ravages of the farming practices. She has created a fascinating film on the subject, Salmon Confidential (watch above, or on her website).

In the crowded farm conditions hundreds of thousands of farmed fish can quickly become infected by a pathogen and when a fish is sick, it emits the viruses, bacteria, or lice into the water around it. At the Cohen Commission one of DFO’s own scientists, Kyle Garver, testified that a single farm can emit 650 billion viral particles per hour during a disease outbreak.
The viruses, bacteria and parasites from these sick fish can quickly fill a channel. The inlets where these farms are placed are often around 1 km wide and 300 feet deep. 650 billion viral particles released per hour can quickly disperse through this small area.
Now when the wild salmon swim through these channels and inlets they are exposed to the plume of bacteria, viruses and/or lice- or whatever kind of outbreak the farms happen to be experiencing. The farms have become the gatekeepers to the wild salmon.
Sometimes the wild fish are lucky enough to pass when there is no outbreak on the farm, but in many cases they are exposed to some kind of pathogen (lice, bacteria, viruses). The same dynamics apply with the amplification of sea lice, bacteria and any disease- whether natural or exotic.

And in the end, the farms produce a product that is not safe to consume in quantity.

Horse Meat Found in Chicken Nuggets, the Scandal Grows

There is a real risk that you would wind up eating horses unknowingly if slaughter is permitted.

Horse meat in chicken nuggets?  That is just wrong on so many levels…

Following the news that horse meat was found in the Swedish Meatballs in franchises of Ikea and in hamburger patties in Europe, Greek officials checked their nation’s meat products,  and according to the UK Meat Trades Journal, the officials found horse meat in as much as 50% of their traditional sausages and hamburger patties, and trace amounts in schnitzel.
But the 10%  horse meat content in chicken nuggets is the real kicker, and leaves you wondering what to eat when in Europe or other countries where the slaughter of horses is permitted.
Can it happen here?  Absolutely, if the slaughter industry succeeds in their present push to open horse slaughter facilities again in the U.S. We have seen this kind of fraud time and time again in the U.S., the latest of which is the mislabeling of fish recently uncovered by Oceana:

-The study found mislabeling in 27 of the 46 seafood types tested. It revealed that 59 percent of fish sold as tuna in U.S. restaurants and grocery stores is not actually tuna.
Only snapper, mislabeled 87 percent of the time and in reality any one of six different species, was sold fraudulently more often.
Disturbingly, 84 percent of fish samples described as ‘white tuna’ were actually escolar. Escolar is a type of snake mackerel that has rich, buttery flesh, but unpleasant side effects. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2283880/Fish-mislabeling-widespread-U-S-84-white-tuna-species-causes-distressing-gastrointestinal-effects.html#ixzz2OfHui7l1

Another example is the familiar Chicken McNugget, which only contains half chicken:

No one in his or her right mind would cook chicken like this. Yet every day, hoards of Americans consume these ingredients in Chicken McNuggets, which McDonalds claims are “made with white meat, wrapped up in a crisp tempura batter.”
However chicken only accounts for about 50% of a Chicken McNugget. The other 50% includes a large percentage of corn derivatives, sugars, leavening agents and other completely synthetic ingredients, meaning that parts of the nugget do not come from a field or farm at all. They come from a petroleum plant. Hungry?
Scariest perhaps is the fact that this recipe is a new and improved, “healthier” Chicken McNugget launched in 2003 after a federal judge called the deep-fried poultry bites “a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook.” Also terrifying is the fact that these McFrankenuggets are overwhelmingly marketed to children who love their fun shapes and kid-friendly size. The Organic Authority.

Let’s not add the worry that we might be served up ‘Black Beauty on a Bun’ when we think we’re getting a burger, or chicken, or sausage…please learn more about the risks of horse slaughter, and take action (from Habitat for Horses):
American Horse Slaughter Act of 2011 – “Amends the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption. Authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to detain for examination, testing, or the taking of evidence: (1) any horse at any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction that is sore or which the Secretary has probable cause to believe is sore; and (2) any horse or other equine that the Secretary has probable cause to believe is being shipped, transported, moved, delivered, received, possessed, purchased, sold, or donated in violation of such prohibition. Increases the cap on the amount of appropriations that may be used to carry out such Act.”
Take Action
Please make a brief, polite phone call to your two U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative. Look up your Senator’s phone numbers here and your state Representative here.
Then, send a follow-up note to your members of Congress. We encourage you to add your own thoughts about horse slaughter in the message builder.

Day-Glo Pet Fish Are Genetically Engineered, As Are These Controversial Salmon

Zebrafish genetically engineered into fluorescent colors.

Two fish – one modified to resemble the colors of Play-Doh and the other designed to grow to market size quickly- exemplify the march towards releasing genetically modified animals into the environment. These fish have been developed quietly over the last decade or so, representing both the first GMO animal in the pet trade in one case and the first one designed for human consumption in the other.
Normal zebrafish evolved to blend into the environment

One is a Disney-esque version of the familiar gray/blue zebrafish that are found in many home aquariums. These modified fish are commercially available in most states in fluorescent hues and were created by scientists interested in developing sentinel fish that would change color when the fish’s environment became polluted.
The idea was that by inserting coral or jellyfish genes into the fish embryos the resulting unnatural colors would only appear and glow in certain circumstances, but so far the researchers have not been able to find the key that will trigger the color changes. Meanwhile these freshwater fish – which normally would never even contact the salt water coral and jellyfish – now contain genetic information from those other species, and are being marketed as entertaining oddities.
People are legitimately concerned about the consequences of placing genetically engineered aquarium fish in the hands of consumers because there are no guarantees that the fish won’t just get dumped where the conditions are right for them to survive and breed. The fish are patented so legally hobbyists can’t breed them, but unless someone tries to sell the progeny, who would know?

What makes the precedence of the psychedelic fish particularly onerous is that it opens the door for the creation of all kinds of strange things, including the possible FDA approval of the modified salmon which may soon appear on your plate without your knowing.  These modified Atlantic salmon, with genetic material from Chinook salmon (for size) and an eel-like fish called a ‘pout’ (chose for its year round growth) quickly grow abnormally large and make it to market in record time.

The Center for Food Safety has more detailed information on this issue, and is circulating a petition to encourage the FDA to be more vigilant before approving the genetically engineered salmon. Although the bioengineering company is fighting it, it is your right to have these fish clearly labeled

Help Protect the Small Fish – They Can Bring Whales Close to Shore

In June, West Coast fishery officials recognized the importance of abundant populations of small schooling fish, commonly known as forage fish, as the lifeblood of a productive Pacific Ocean ecosystem. Little fish such as sardines, anchovy, and smelt eat tiny plants and animals drifting near the ocean’s surface and are in turn eaten by everything higher in the food web—including bigger fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) set an admirable goal of prohibiting new fisheries targeting forage fish until there is proof that the fishery wouldn’t harm the overall ecosystem.
However, the council has not enacted protections for vulnerable forage species such as saury, sand lance, and various kinds of smelts. The panel chose to complete a Fishery Ecosystem Plan before moving on to enacting protections for unmanaged species of forage fish.
Here’s how you can help. The PFMC meets Nov. 2-7. Now is the time to ask the council to complete its Fishery Ecosystem Plan in a timely manner and urge that it include meaningful measures to conserve forage fish. It needs to hear now from West Coast residents who value a healthy ecosystem—people like you!
Please ask the council to adopt a Fishery Ecosystem Plan that will help protect the Pacific marine ecosystem now and for the future. (Pew Environment Group)

Sign the Petition – Please Click Here to Help Protect the Pacific Ocean Food Web

Leonardo DiCaprio Is Drawing Attention to the Antarctic Marine Sanctuary

I’m writing to ask for your help. In days, governments could turn stretches of the Antarctic ocean into the world’s largest marine sanctuary, saving thousands of majestic polar species from the threat of industrial fishing fleets. But a small group of countries could drown the deal unless we act now:
Most countries support the sanctuary, but Russia, South Korea and a few others are threatening to vote it down so they can plunder these seas now that others have been fished to death. This week, a small group of negotiators will meet behind closed doors to make a decision. A massive people-powered surge could break open the talks, isolate those attempting to block the sanctuary, and secure a deal to protect over 6 million square kilometers of the precious Antarctic ocean.
The whales and penguins can’t speak for themselves, so it’s up to us to defend them. Let’s change negotiators’ minds with a massive wave of public pressure — Avaaz will surround the meeting with hard-hitting ads, and together we’ll deliver our message to delegates via a deafening cry on social networks. Sign this urgent petition and share it with everyone you know:
More than 10,000 species call these remote Antarctic waters their home, including blue whales, leopard seals, and emperor penguins, and many are found nowhere else on Earth. Climate change has already taken a cruel toll on their fragile habitat, but they will come under further threat from the industrial fishing fleet’s mile-long nets cast over these precious waters. Only a marine sanctuary will increase their odds for survival.
The 25-member governing body that regulates the Antarctic oceans has already committed to creating these marine protected areas. But the two plans being negotiated — one to protect part of the fragile Ross Sea and one for East Antarctica — are at risk of dilution or delay. Shockingly, the talks have been off the media’s radar and countries like Russia and South Korea are betting their opposition will go unnoticed, but if we cast a public spotlight on the talks we can force them to back off, and encourage champions like the US and EU to push for even stronger protections.
The Avaaz community has come together time and time again to protect our oceans. We’ve already helped win two of the largest marine reserves in the world. But the threats to our oceans continue, and one by one species are coming closer to the brink. Join me in saving the Antarctic ocean before it’s too late.
With hope,
Leonardo DiCaprio, with the Avaaz team
Protect Antarctic waters before it’s too late, says environment coalition (The Guardian)
Alliance Seeks Vast Marine Reserves in Antarctic (New York Times)
Milestone discussions on marine protected areas in Antarctica scheduled for CCAMLR’s 31st annual meetings in Hobart (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources)
Antarctic oceans are under threat (Antarctic Ocean Alliance)
Antarctic seas in the balance (Nature)

“Overfishin’, Overfishin’, Save the Fishes”… A Fresh Look (Video)

As the oceans become depleted of large fish, commercial fisheries are increasingly turning to the harvest of the small forage fish to fill their coffers. Unfortunately, what is motivating them in this trend is not the goal of filling dinner plates, but rather looking for ways to keep their own bank accounts full.  The younger generation understands that their future depends upon what we do today.

While there is a strong food market for the forage fish, a higher proportion of the catch is turned into pet food and fertilizer:

A thriving marine ecosystem relies on plenty of forage fish. These small schooling fish are a crucial link in ocean food webs because they eat tiny plants and animals, called plankton, and are preyed upon by animals such as penguins, whales, seals, puffins, and dolphins. They are primary food sources for many commercially and recreationally valuable fish found around North America, such as salmon, tuna, striped bass, and cod. The task force estimated that, globally, forage fish are twice as valuable in the water as in a net—contributing US$11.3 billion by serving as food for other commercially important fish. This is more than double the US$5.6 billion they generate as direct catch.
These species play a growing role in the everyday lives of industrialized nations. Their demand in recent decades has greatly increased for use as fish meal and fish oil to feed farmed fish, pigs, and chickens that people consume on a regular basis. Fish oil is also used in nutritional supplements for humans. (Ocean Conservation Science)

Left unchecked and unseen out in the ocean reaches, industrial fisheries have the potential to devastate the oceans, but fortunately we have organizations such as the Pew Environment Group – an endowed organization that works closely with fisheries and government agencies to protect these critical resources. They are concerned about the status of the forage fish populations, and locally are urging the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) to protect the food web that supports existing fisheries, and to “transition from a single-species approach to one that is ecosystem-based”.

Pew Environment Group has prepared the following letter, which you can copy and mail, email or fax…or write your own opinion.  The Commission’s next meeting is November 2-7, but the deadline for getting letters in their briefing book is October 23rd. If at all possible, a letter to the Commission prior to the 23rd of October would be great.
Send to:
Pacific Fishery Management Council
7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101
Portland, Oregon 97220-1384
Phone: 503-820-2280
Toll Free: 1-866-806-7204
Fax: 503-820-2299
Email: pfmc.comments@noaa.gov

Dear Chairman Wolford and Council Members,
We appreciate the Council’s decision in June recognizing forage fish as the cornerstone of a productive marine ecosystem along the Pacific coast. Forage fish are the lifeblood of a healthy ocean. We ask that you keep on track to fulfill your commitment to prohibit new fisheries targeting forage species that aren’t yet being fished, starting with timely adoption of a strong Fishery Ecosystem Plan.
Our coastal ecosystem is under increasing pressure. The Pacific marine environment is affected by large-scale changes in climate, coastal habitat degradation, invasive species, and rising demand to feed a growing world. A resilient ecosystem depends first and foremost on a balanced food web, which is why conservation of prey fish is widely recognized as a pillar of ecosystem-based fishery management.
It’s important that the Council adopt a plan that’s actually useful in improving fishery management, rather than a weighty document that sits on a shelf. A meaningful Fishery Ecosystem Plan should include an index measuring forage abundance along the West Coast. Additionally, it should help the Council maximize the benefits we derive from the ocean by weighing the tradeoffs between large-scale fisheries targeting prey fish versus leaving them in the water to feed ocean wildlife and high-value predators like salmon, tuna and halibut.
The Council’s top priority should be to ensure the stability of the marine ecosystem and existing fisheries here on the Pacific coast. Adequate conservation of forage fish may be the single most important action the council can take to protect the Pacific marine ecosystem – and the fishermen and coastal communities that depend on it.
Thank you.