Effort to protect small fish is the right move
Source: Statesman Journal
Big fish eat little fish. That’s the law of the sea. So if the little fish disappear, so too will the big fish salmon, halibut, tuna and others.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council took an important step this summer toward preserving those little fish collectively called forage fish so there will be plenty for the larger, predator fish and seabirds to dine on.
The council agreed to block any new fishing of forage fish pending a scientific review of how many such fish could be caught by humans without harming the overall Pacific Coast fisheries. Fishing will continue for species that already are being caught for commerce or sport, such as sardines or the kind of smelt netted on the Sandy and Cowlitz rivers.
Proactive protection of unfished species makes sense, so as to prevent overfishing of forage fish, which could lead to decimated fisheries in the 317,000 square miles of ocean that the council manages off the West Coast.
Major organizations of commercial fishermen and of recreational anglers recognize the need for that protection, and they support the council’s action. The challenge, however, is to keep the momentum instead of letting the work fall victim to inertia or being sidelined amid other priorities.
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