The West Coast challenge

Fisheries on the West Coast of America have come under intense pressure after closures and a dramatic fall in stock levels. Adrian Tatum looks at the challenges over the last few years.

Sometimes when something is broken it seems almost impossible to fix. Commercial fishing on the West Coast of America is far from broken but parts of it do need fixing.

Nearly a year ago its commercial sardine fishery was closed after the population of Pacific sardines had fallen to alarming levels. In April last year, scientists made a recommendation for full closure after the population was estimated to be below 150,000 tons. It has been a dramatic decline, as in 2007 there were 1.4 million tons.

The sardine fishery has not only been a major revenue source for West Coast fishermen, but many other species of fish such as tuna also rely on a plentiful supply for food. Scientists believed that by closing it last year it would give the population a chance to recover. But just last month, it was revealed that the sardine population has not recovered, and is in fact still declining at a fast rate. Scientists from the National Marine Fisheries Service say that by the summer, the population is likely to be 33% lower than in 2015.

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About the author

Ashley Herriman

Ashley Herriman is the online editor for National Fisherman.

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