Maybe you have seen this going around about the Little Fish our big fish eat? Pew has been pushing this around for a while, and you know what, they are spot on. As fishermen, sport and commercial, we fight over allocation, we fight over hatchery releases, and we all are overwhelmed with the issues of habitat. All this has to do with what is going down on land. There is something we can do that is pretty simple and gets us ahead of the curve on a major issue in our oceans. The increase harvest of Forage fish.
Forage fish are the herring, anchovies, sardines, dace, smelt, squid etc. that eat phytoplankton turning it into protein for the big stuff, like seals, salmon, steelhead and birds. This increase in harvest in a volatile ocean, see the sardine issue, turns commercial fishermen to seek out new species to target for harvest often to feed fish farms. Of all these little fish, only anchovies, market squid, Pacific herring, and sardines are regulated on the West Coast in the L48. What Pew is suggesting, along with Trout Unlimited, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Wild Steelhead Coalition and a slew of others, is they actually manage for the majority of species on an eco-system level. This is the proposal from the Pacific Fisheries Management Council that fish folks are supporting.
These fish feed Steelhead and salmon, making them strong so they can swim to places as near to the ocean as Siletz, Oregon or as far as Salmon, Idaho, healthy fish are strong spawners and fight hard as well. The other thing these little fish do is create massive bait balls at the mouths of some of our biggest rivers, like the Columbia. This provides incredible cover for outgoing smolt who run a gauntlet of birds, seals, and predator fish as they enter the ocean.
So take a minute and Take Action – Tell the Pacific Fisheries Management Council the time is now to protect unmanaged Forage Fish – Deadline for Comments is March 30th.
Head over to http://www.tu.org/take-action and find the link titled “West Coast TU Members: Urge Fishery Managers to Protect Our Forage Fish”