Pacific coast sardines are facing a population collapse so severe that Oregon's multimillion-dollar sardine industry almost certainly will be shut down this summer.
Anticipating fishermen will pursue anchovies instead, ocean conservationists are pushing for pre-emptive measures to avoid repeating the collapse with another species.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which regulates the fishing industry off the coast of Oregon, California and Washington, is expected to vote Sunday to close the West Coast sardine fishery in response to new population estimates that indicate the species' still hasn't emerged from an eight-year plummet.
The latest figures indicate there are somewhere between 97,000 and 133,000 metric tons of adult sardines in the ocean from northern Mexico to British Columbia. That's a 90 percent dip since sardines peaked in 2007, and it puts the population below a mandatory fishing cutoff of 150,000 metric tons.
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