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Summary Report of the 2009 Experimental Purse Seine Fishery For Pacific Sardine (Sardinops Sagax)

Category: Fishing / Shellfishing - Harvest and Catch Reports

Date Published: March 2010

Number of Pages: 13

Author(s): Carol Henry, Lorna Wargo


Pacific sardines are managed under the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) fishery management plan. Through the Pacific Council process, scientists develop and review an annual coastwide stock assessment incorporating data from federally sponsored surveys and state-managed fisheries. The Pacific Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee reviews that assessment and develops a recommendation for an annual coastwide harvest guideline for the Council. The Council considers all of the information presented through its advisory bodies and public comment and adopts a coastwide annual harvest guideline for the following year. The harvest guideline is allocated seasonally with releases on January 1st, July 1st, and September 15th (Table 1). In 2009, the overall coastwide harvest guideline was 66, 932 metric tons (mt). Since the total 2009 allocation was down 25% compared to 2008 and down 56% compared to 2007, there was concern that Washington, Oregon, and California sardine fishermen would harvest the periodic allocations quickly and there would not be enough sardines to cover incidental catch of sardines in fisheries targeting other coastal pelagic species, such as squid and anchovy. To this end, small amounts of sardines were set aside during each period for incidental catch.

An additional 2,400 mt of sardines were also set aside for Experimental Fishery Permits (EFP). Twelve hundred metric tons were set aside for the Northwest Sardine Survey (NWSS), a group of Washington and Oregon sardine fishermen and industry representatives that banded together in 2008 to conduct aerial surveys to photograph and measure sardine biomass off the Washington and Oregon coast. Another 1,200 mt was set aside for the California Wetfish Producers Association EFP which worked with NWSS to accomplish the aerial surveys during the summer months.

In Washington, participation in the sardine fishery has been managed under Emerging Commercial Fishery provisions (WAC 220-88-010) since 2000, and the number of licenses has been limited since 2003. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and sardine fishermen chose to limit participation in the Washington fishery largely due to the rapid expansion of the sardine fishery in the Pacific Northwest.

In August of 2009, Washington’s sardine fishery moved from an emerging fishery into standard rules. Under standard rules, the sardine fishery will continue to be limited entry. Up to 18 licenses will be issued initially in 2010, but provisions are written into the Revised Code of Washington for the director to issue up to an additional 25 temporary permits. Since the sardine fishery no longer functions under the Emerging Commercial provisions, but is now a limited entry fishery functioning under standard rules, sardine licenses can be bought, sold, or traded with other fishermen. When the sardine fishery was under the Emerging Commercial Fishery provisions sardine permits were not allowed be sold or traded to others who were interested in participating in the sardine fishery.