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Action alert: Protect forage fish so seabirds can thrive!

March 20, 2014: The Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which sets catch levels on the west coast for important seabird prey like anchovy and sardine, will be meeting in April to consider management options for forage fish species. These small fish form the base of the ocean food web, and seabirds and other marine wildlife depend on them for food. Please let the Council know that a healthy ocean ecosystem is important to you too by sending them a quick email.

Action alert: Protect forage fish so seabirds can thrive!

Pigeon Guillemots - Ron LeValley

March 20, 2014: The Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which sets catch levels on the west coast for important seabird prey like anchovy and sardine, will be meeting in April to consider management options for forage fish species. These small fish form the base of the ocean food web, and seabirds and other marine wildlife depend on them for food.

What: Pacific Fisheries Management Council meeting
When: April 10, 2014
Where: Vancouver, Wash.

We recommend that the Council approve and release for public comment a range of alternatives to protect currently unmanaged forage fish. Further, the Council should settle on “option 2.2.1” as their “preferred alternative” - outlined in a new report from the Council’s Ecosystem Working Group. We believe this option would provide the strongest protections for forage fish.

The Council will make these decisions at the upcoming meeting, and the Audubon Society of Portland will be there to speak up. Please let the Council know that a healthy ocean ecosystem is important to you too by sending them a quick email.

How You Can Help

The Council is accepting written public comment until March 30, 2014. Please send in a letter to help convince the Council to provide the strongest possible pathway for forage fish management. A sample letter is provided below; modify it as much as you'd like, or write your own.

Email your letter to pfmc.comments@noaa.gov. We would like to track the number of letters submitted, so please copy us on your email or let us know about your letter using the following address: jliebezeit@audubonportland.org

Why Act Now?

Too often fisheries managers step in after fish stocks have already collapsed. This is a golden opportunity to set good policies before it is too late. Growing global demand for inexpensive protein drives the call to open new fisheries on forage fish, but the growing harvest comes at the expense of everything higher on the food chain. As essential prey for bigger fish like tuna and salmon, marine mammals, and seabirds, forage fish are the “unsung heroes” of the California Current Ecosystem.

Additional information: Seabirds and Forage Fish | FAQs | PFMC Ecosystem Working Group Report | Letter from Audubon chapters to the Council

Sample Letter


RE: J.1. Unmanaged Forage Fish Initiative

Dear Chair Lowman and Council Members,

The Council has made steady progress over the past two years in laying the groundwork for establishing regulatory protections for currently unmanaged forage fish species. Today, I ask that you select alternative 2.2.1 as the preliminary preferred option for protecting currently unmanaged forage fish by incorporating them into all of the Council’s existing fishery management plans as ecosystem component species. I also encourage you to release the range of alternatives for public comment.

The Council’s Ecosystem Working Group has delivered a new report justifying your decision to conserve these forage species, both because of their importance to the California Current ecosystem and because of growing worldwide demand to catch them.

These steps will ensure that the Council achieves its goal of basic management protections for unmanaged forage fish. In so doing, you will fulfill the first initiative of the Council’s Fishery Ecosystem Plan, a visionary document that the council approved unanimously a year ago.

By protecting forage fish as a key link in the marine food web, we can maintain a healthy marine ecosystem, including the valuable sustainable fisheries we rely upon.

Thank you for your continued commitment to maintaining a healthy and productive Pacific Ocean.

Sincerely,
[name]

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