When you see a big white NOAA oceanographic ship setting sail out through the Newport jaws, chances are they’re out counting noses…noses of “forage fish,” aka sardines, anchovy and herring – the preferred dining targets of salmon, rockfish, flounder and lincod.
Those NOAA ships have been spending a lot of time lately tracking what has been described as a substantial decline in numbers of sardines, anchovy and herring which feed on smaller lifeforms in the oceans. Marine scientists say although “forage fish” population fluctuations have been common in the past, recent declines are especially steep.
This information hasn’t been lost on federal and state agencies charged with providing a sustainable fishery for the commercial and recreational fish industries. And while there has always been a goodly amount of disagreement between those who fish and those conservationists who root for the fish, it appears that both sides are admitting to what can only be described as a sobering set of circumstances going on off our shores. The direct fishing pressures on forage fish for fish meal and bait for hatchery fish and by-catch (caught incidental to other fish) may have to be re-evaluated.
The Oregonian has the story. Click here.