Sardines off the West Coast have continued on a steep decline, with populations this summer forecast to be down 93 percent from a 2007 peak, according to a draft assessment from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The sardines are a key forage food for sea lions, salmon and many other species, as well as a source of income for commercial fishermen.
In some years, sardines have been worth from $10 million to more than $20 million annually to a West Coast fleet.
Last year, the sardine implosion was so severe that the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to call off the season that was scheduled to start in July for West Coast fleets, including those in Washington state.
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