Oceana Applauds Fish and Game Commission for Protecting Ocean Food Web

Commissioners Decide Not to Re-open Squid Fishery this Season

San Diego, CA- The California Fish and Game Commission decided to protect the needs of ocean predators by keeping the California market squid fishery closed for the remainder of the season as the maximum catch limit of this critical resource has already been reached. Oceana in collaboration with seafood businesses, recreational fishers, and conservation organizations urged the Commission not to re-open the squid fishery and to create a policy guiding the future management of critical forage species like squid.

“Forage species are not only critical to a healthy ocean ecosystem, but to California’s economy as they bring in billions of dollars in revenue annually through recreational and commercial fishing, tourism, and hospitality industries,” said Ashley Blacow, Pacific Policy and Communications Coordinator with Oceana. “Today both industry and conservation groups agreed that too much fishing pressure on forage fish like squid is not in our best interest.”

The market squid fishery was closed three weeks ago because the previously agreed upon catch limit of squid (236 million pounds) had been caught, leaving the fishery closed until next April.

“We are not asking for these fisheries to be shut down. The problem with fisheries management today is that the primary goal is to maximize how much fish we take out of the ocean as opposed to how many fish we need to leave in the ocean to support ecosystem and economic needs,” said Geoff Shester, Oceana’s California Program Director.

After hearing public testimony on the importance of squid and the opposition to reopening the fishery, as well as the industry’s decision to rescind their request to catch more squid this season, the Commission decided to keep the fishery closed until April. The Commission expressed its support for adopting an ecosystem-based policy guiding management of forage species when urged to do so by several entities including Oceana. Currently, there is no state policy guiding management of these critical fish species, so a Commission policy on forage species would be the first of its kind. “Today’s action by the Commission signals a turning point in our ongoing efforts to protect the ocean food web,” Shester added. “The Commission put the ball in our court to draft an ecosystem-based policy to guide future management of forage species, and we are excited to initiate this important dialogue among stakeholders, including conservation groups, fishermen, and regulators.”

Source: Oceana www.oceana.org