CA Fish and Game Commission passes the Forage Fish bill

The CA Fish and Game Commission passed the Forage Fish bill Sea Stewards and other advocates worked on this summer to protect the base of the food chain.

 

Attached is the new policy. Crucial support came from fishing groups and lead by  our colleagues Dr. Geoff Shester at Oceana and Anna Weinstein of Audubon California.

 California Fish and Game Commission Policy on Forage Species

It is the policy of the Fish and Game Commission that:

I. For purposes of California fisheries management, forage species are defined as
species that contribute significantly to the diets of larger organisms during some part of
their life history, thereby transferring energy and nutrients to higher trophic levels in the
ecosystem.

II. The Commission recognizes the importance of forage species to the marine
ecosystem off California’s coast and envisions management of forage species that:
optimizes their ecological, economic and social values; accounts for the benefits
rendered by forage species to other species, fisheries, wildlife, and the overall
ecosystem; and considers recreational and commercial fishing interests and other
economic sectors.

III. The Commission intends to provide adequate protection for forage species through
management goals that:

Are precautionary and utilize the best available science in management
decisions using clear and transparent methods;

Identify and progressively incorporate Essential Fishery Information (EFI) needed
for ecosystem-based management of forage species, including physical factors,
oceanographic conditions, the effects of fishing on forage species’ dependent
predators, the availability of alternative prey, spatio-temporal foraging hotspots
for predators, and existing management, including marine protected areas;

Prevent the development of new or expanded forage fisheries until EFI is
available and applied to ensure the sustainability of target forage species and
protection of its benefits as prey; and

Facilitate consistency in the management of forage species, integrate with
existing Fishery Management Plans, and encourage cooperation and
collaboration across jurisdictions and international boundaries in managing
forage species.

Policy adopted unanimously by California Fish and Game Commission on  November 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.