The Pacific Fishery Management Council moved forward last week with an historic Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the West Coast. The council regulates fishing in federal waters off California, Oregon and Washington, including for key forage species such as sardine, mackerel, anchovy and squid.
"The new plan will give greater protection to forage fish by prohibiting new fisheries for currently unmanaged species while developing an index of health for the overall forage base to guide future management decisions," said Ken Hinman, president of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation and head of its Wild Oceans project. Hinman testified before the Pacific Council at its November 6th meeting in Costa Mesa, CA, where the council voted to finalize its draft Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) in March 2013.
• The new plan will be an umbrella document containing policies and information for the council to consider as it manages fishing under its existing fishery management plans.
• An Initiatives or "action" section of the plan, which may be modified and updated as needed, makes prohibiting new fisheries for unmanaged forage fish its first priority initiative.
• A list of core ecosystem indicators will be developed that can be tracked through a State of the Ecosystem Report presented to the council annually. Among these indicators will be the status of the overall forage base. Ø A section will be added to the FEP to link actions to the status indicators.
"In the simplest terms, what the FEP will provide the council is a context for making smarter management decisions," said Hinman. "It will be a tool for applying established ecosystem principles throughout the management process, with a means for holding the council accountable for achieving its ecosystem goals."
– Source: National Coalition for Marine Conservation