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Summary Report of the 2005 Experimental Purse Seine Fishery for Pacific Sardine (Sardinops sagax)

Category: Fishing / Shellfishing - Harvest and Catch Reports

Date Published: February 2006

Number of Pages: 13

Author(s): Michele Culver, Carol Henry


In Washington, sardines are managed under the Emerging Commercial Fishery provisions, which provide for the harvest of a newly classified species, or harvest of a previously classified species in a new area or by new means (WAC 220-88-010). From 2000 through 2002, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife had trial purse seine fisheries for Pacific sardines, under which the number of participants cannot be limited. Following an extensive public process which included establishing and meeting with a formal Sardine Advisory Board, the Director decided to advance the sardine fishery to an experimental fishery in 2003, under the Emerging Commercial Fisheries legislation, which mandates that permits be limited.

Pacific sardines are managed under the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) fishery management plan. The Pacific Council develops and adopts a coastwide annual harvest guideline, which (through 2005) is then allocated between the two areas which take into account the biological and ecological impacts of harvesting forage fish. Beginning in 2006, the coastwide harvest guideline will be allocated seasonally, with scheduled releases on January 1st, July 1st, and September 15th (Table 1). The northern allocation of sardines, which is shared by Washington, Oregon, and California (north of Pt. Arena), is primarily harvested by Oregon and Washington fishers (Table 2).

The Northwest sardine fishery has rapidly expanded over the past few years, which was the primary reason the Department decided to convert from a trial to an experimental fishery. Oregon began its limited developmental fishery in 1999, which yielded 771 mt in sardine landings. Since then, the Northwest landings have increased for a total of 37,923 mt in 2002, 36,862 mt in 2003, and 40,493 mt in 2004. In 2005, the overall coastwide harvest guideline was 136,179 mt, producing an initial northern allocation of 45,393 mt.