Demand is increasing for forage fish used to produce fishmeal for aquaculture.

Ban on US west coast forage fisheries ‘a bold step’

The catching of forage fish has been banned in the state of California, unless it can be demonstrated that it can be done without causing harm to the ecosystem.

Regulations put in place on 15 April prohibit new fisheries from exploiting certain species of forage fish from zero to three miles offshore.

With similar regulations in place in Washington and Oregon state waters (0-3 miles) and in federal waters coast-wide (3-200 miles), this action completes protections that apply to all US ocean waters on the West Coast from shore out to 200 miles.

“California just took a bold step toward ecosystem-based management of our oceans,” said Geoff Shester, senior scientist at campaign group Oceana. “By protecting the foundation of the ocean food web before new fisheries develop, California has safeguarded healthy fishing communities and ocean wildlife for generations to come.”

Demand for fishmeal 

Demand is increasing for forage fish used to produce fishmeal for aquaculture and agriculture industries, but the new regulations prevent commercial fisheries from developing these small schooling fish unless and until there is careful consideration and analyses of potential effects on the ocean ecosystem and existing fisheries will ensure larger predators have enough to eat.

The new regulations do not affect existing fisheries for forage species such as squid, sardines, anchovy or herring; however, they prevent new forage species from becoming subject to directed target until potential impacts can be evaluated.

The species protected – including smelts, myctophid lanternfish, sand lance, saury, squids, silversides, and grunion – together comprise roughly 70 per cent of the total weight of forage species in ocean waters off the West Coast, according to recent models.

The new regulations can be found here.

Published: 19/04/2017 at 1:32 am

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